Saturday 13th July 2024
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Refugee Week: From homeless to opening a Sri Lankan cafe in Camden

From being homeless on the streets of London, a Sri Lankan Tamil chef has turned his life around with the immeasurable help from UK’s refugee charities.

Before becoming a trained chef, Sivakolundu Yogeswaran arrived to the UK in 2008, where he received no help from the government and British Tamil community. Struggling to make a living, in 2015 he was made homeless, sleeping rough in Charing Cross & Waterloo stations. Unable to eat, he understood the value of being hungry.

Having faced many low points in life and feeling lost and neglected, Yogi attempted suicide, and was placed in inpatient mental health care.

With housing and training assistance from UK based refugee organisations including Migrateful and Freedom from Torture, Yogi began his journey to a better life.

A Migrateful graduate, he trained at the Hotel School and secured a job at one of London’s top five star hotels. He was then able to reunite with his wife and daughter after almost 15 years apart.

This year, Yogi’s Sri Lankan Kitchen started its residency at the South Asian owned & refugee led Trampoline Café in Camden Passage, near to Angel, N1. Trampoline Cafe supports small producers and refugees on their upward journey.

Chef Yogi takes pride in preparing his pastes, powders and dishes from scratch. Staples include authentic Sri Lankan curries, short eats, kothu & hoppers.

On Saturday 15th June, ahead of Refugee Week (taking place from 17th and 23rd June 2024), he was invited to prepare Afternoon Tea at Sup, a refugee supper club initiative. It took place at the Daytimers festival, held at the Horniman museum & garden in South London. His Sri Lankan afternoon tea consisted of a selection of his handmade short eats (mutton rolls, chicken rolls, fish & egg samosa, and fish roti), signature chai and sweet treats including Mysore Pak & Watalappam.