A warm welcome: becoming a British citizen in Wandsworth
Published: Thursday 6th April 17
Every year up to 2,000 people from all over the world become British citizens at Wandsworth Town Hall, with ceremonies taking place every Wednesday.
Gulay with former mayor Cllr Angela Graham
For many, these events, usually presided over by the Mayor of Wandsworth, are a formal introduction to British society, often following years of living and working in the UK and the detailed process of application for citizenship.
Gulay Saritas has lived in Wandsworth since 2006, after coming to the UK as a student from Turkey, and became a British citizen in 2008 during proceedings held in the council’s Civic Suite. She lives in a shared ownership flat in Putney, and works as a teacher in a north London school.
She said: “The ceremony was on the hottest day of the year! I remember the councillor saying that Wandsworth has always welcomed people from abroad, and how the Vikings first landed in Putney. Wandsworth is my home, I did my Master’s degree at Roehampton University, and I love living here. I think being in a ceremony at the town hall is good because you are being part of society in Britain now, with its traditions and history.”
During the ceremony, all participants make an oath of allegiance to the Queen, some swearing to God, while others choose to make a secular affirmation, also pledging loyalty to the UK, observing its laws and fulfilling the duties of a citizen. Participants in the ceremony can bring along two guests and official photographs can be purchased.
Afterwards, the new British citizens are presented with a naturalisation certificate, which can then be used to apply to the Home Office for a British passport, unless they have already applied using the new Joint Passport and Citizenship Service which Wandsworth Council helped to pioneer.
Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of the council, said: “Wandsworth is a varied community which continues to be an open and welcoming place for the citizens of today and of tomorrow. Becoming a British citizen is a momentous event, and we welcome those who continue to make Wandsworth the thriving, dynamic and successful borough that it is today.”
For more information, visit the council’s citizenship service pages here.