Immigration has been one of the most hotly-contested issues in the UK elections. The number of people migrating to the UK is at an all time high, so what are the stories of those who leave their home countries to come and live in Britain?
Flavia Kenyon, 40, is the only Romanian criminal barrister in the UK. Growing up during the communist regime, she says, compelled her to fight against injustice. "I had a happy childhood, don't get me wrong," she says, "because my parents really made sure that I had everything I needed."
Her father, in particular, was very arty and into the Beatles; a big Anglophile who loved England and the English language.
"But he couldn't study it at school when he was little, [so] he made sure that I had a private tutor [at the age of eight]," Kenyon recalls. "And she used to come to my parent's flat, every week, and she used to teach me English and it transported me to a world that I very much wanted to be a part of."
The teaching however took place in secret, because the authorities frowned upon any influence from the West. "We were truly behind the Iron Curtain and those were the dark moments of Romania."
But then revolution came to Romania in 1989. Kenyon worked with the BBC as an interpreter and later moved to the UK to study at Oxford, eventually marrying a BBC reporter.
As a Romanian and now a British citizen settled in London, she says she has never felt discriminated against because of her background.
"When I came in 1994, I came to the UK as a student. People were rather mesmerized when I told them I come from Romania, Transylvania. 'Does that exist?' 'Is that some sort of fairy tale country?'"
After working for about two years for an advertising agency, Kenyon completed a conversion course in law and followed the long process of becoming a barrister. And she was up against a majority of British, male candidates.
"The bar is still, I'm afraid, quite an elitist profession. It has changed, and it's changing, but it is hard. I had to prove myself; I had to work harder than any of my colleagues." But representing fellow Romanians and those vulnerable in society, Kenyon is motivated by the potential she has to make a difference to people's lives.
Diana Nammi, a former female Peshmerga fighter, had no choice but to rely on untrustworthy smugglers to secretly bring her into the UK with her young child to avoid the dangers of living as a Kurdish woman in Iran and later, Iraq.
Nammi, 51, was inspired by her family and especially how her father stood up for a bride at a wedding when it was revealed she was not a virgin, a social taboo amid the community that could have led to her murder.
But this was a rare exception: in Iran women's rights issues, such as honor killings and forced marriages, were not spoken about in public. In fact, Kurds were not even allowed to speak in their own language.
By the time the Islamic Revolution began in 1979, Nammi had secretly joined the Peshmerga, initially working in their media department because it wasn't acceptable for a female to fight. Eventually she took up arms and became a fighter in Iran.
After spending 12 years on the frontlines, Nammi fell pregnant and realized she had to move on for the sake of her child. Friends and family raised enough funds for her to be smuggled out of the country.
But when she arrived in London in 1991, she found it tough, initally. "When I came here, I was stuck in a council flat, an area where there were drug dealers," she recalls.
"They attempted a few times to kill me, perhaps because I saw them; they were exchanging money. But it took five years for me to be moved from that house to somewhere a bit better."
The death of a Kurdish interpreter who had helped Diana when she arrived in the UK spurred her to start an organization that fights for the rights of Kurdish and Iranian women.
Nammi, who is now a social activist, believes her friend, who had lived in the UK for 11 years, was killed by her jealous husband when she returned to Iraq.
As a result she established the Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation (IKWRO) in 2002 to help to establish campaigns against honor killings and other forms of persecution. "This is not our culture," Nammi says. "There is no justification."
Her inability to communicate fluently in English was a barrier at first, but her previous experiences helped her to overcome challenges. Now she's taken the women's rights battle from Iran to the UK.
"We are living in a country where you cannot hide anything," she says of her new home. "It helps a lot being here, this kind of activity you couldn't have back in Iran. The level of safety and freedom to talk, criticize the regime, government, police, and make them come and sit with us and the people to talk about these things, these things don't happen in other countries."
Thirteen years on, Nammi has won awards and accolades: despite her hardships, she has fond memories of Iran, but her definition of home is boundless.
"Sometimes I feel I miss the dust of our small town. I really miss the raining, the snow and the children, the dirty streets. But I have lived here more than anywhere else."
Born in Kirkuk, northern Iraq, Ahmed Khudhur, now 28, and his family fled his country for Jordan in 2006 due to sectarian conflict. Although he had already begun university, the unrest was unbearable.
"I remember when I was walking to my university, 1km from the place I lived in, I've seen a dead body lying there with blood. At that time I was 18."
In late 2006, the family fled to Jordan: he graduated with a degree in banking and finance in 2009, then continued his higher education in the UK for language reasons.
He wasn't completely alone: a university friend from Jordan, Mohammed Al Janabi, also a victim of the conflict, arrived with him.
They ended up at Caledonian University in Glasgow -- but Khudhur had a tough time renewing his student visa because his surname was spelled differently to his father, who sponsored his studies.
Khudhur returned to Iraq for a while but feared for his life due to sectarian violence -- his father worked in the Prime Minister's office -- and left the country for a second time in 2013 when he was granted refugee status for five years.
Al Janabi was not so fortunate: gunmen killed him when he returned to Iraq, only days after he had met with Khudhur. "He was my best friend," Khudhur says with disbelief.
Khudhur now works as a risk analyst in Oxford, southern England -- but says he hasn't always felt welcome: "At the airport, when I travel, I'm always stopped; skipping everybody, they search me."
But he says it's not just airport officials who can be inhospitable.
"Some British people are my friends, but they still complain about immigrants, that they're taking houses and things like that.
"It's sad that you see the place you grew up and you have all those memories, your things, and you still can't come back and live. It was empty," he says, describing his house, the furniture covered in layers of dust, after he visited in 2013. "It's difficult being an immigrant when it's not your choice to be an immigrant," he says.
Emi Gal, 29, from Romania has been an entrepreneur all his working life.
Starting his own software company at the age of 19 from the comfort of his bedroom in Bucharest, he trialed several businesses -- "They were mostly bad ideas," he says, smiling -- before he came up with Brainient, a platform that allows broadcasters to create interactive adverts that appear before the beginning of a video.
Moving to London in 2009 at the age of 23, Gal entered the Seedcamp start-up competition and won a 50,000 euro investment as well as business support.
Established in London with clients across the globe, the business employs 14 people in the city as well as 26 workers based in Romania.
Gal says he had a "normal, working class family upbringing" with his parents -- he credits his determination and focus to his father -- and two elder sisters.
He feels the way in which he entered the UK, winning Seedcamp and establishing a successful business, opened a lot of doors regardless of his background.
"Because I have Romanian friends who haven't been as fortunate as I have and they have felt some resistance from a certain class of people here," he says.
Although Gal has never had problems integrating into British society, he notices a marked difference in the London way of life.
He carries out projects each year: one of his current ones is to speak to an old person every week and document his interviews on his blog.
Through this he has discovered that many senior citizens wished they had been kinder and more generous to people earlier in life.
"People here, after a certain age, they don't make new, close friends. Which isn't at all the case in a Latin country (such as Romania) where everybody is friends with everybody and people meet in their fifties and they become best buddies. But that's more of a cultural difference than anything else, I think.
"I have lots of acquaintances. Lots. Thousands. But I have a handful of close friends. Out of which, I'm thinking now, one or two are British ... It's a very fractured city, because everyone's focused on career and work, achieving whatever they want to achieve. And that's sad, in a way."
He says that while comments against his country upset him, he dismisses them as untrue.
"Immigrants in the UK are hardworking people with jobs because it's a country that isn't really friendly to people who don't contribute in some shape or form to society."
But he sees his future in the United States rather than the UK because of that unfriendliness. So would he recommend fellow Romanians follow in his footsteps?
"Just do it. Set objectives, and work hard to meet them. When I decided to move to London, it wasn't a complex thought process; I just woke up one morning and I said 'I'm moving to London.' And then I just had to figure out when and how. And a few months later, I moved. "There's no point why people should be afraid of failure. Because it's not that big of a deal."
On August 6, 1972, Idi Amin, President and brutal dictator of Uganda, announced that all people of Asian descent had 90 days to leave their homes in Uganda. Permanently.
For Ugandan Indian Dhiraj Kataria, now 67, it wasn't his first encounter with Amin: he was imprisoned in November 1971 along with 35 others in the death wing of the military police headquarters outside Kampala, the capital of Kenya. He suffered in horrific conditions and says he was one of only four people to survive the ordeal.
The family fled in November 1972: they were only allowed to take £55 ($83) with them, but even valuables like jewelry and watches were taken at checkpoints on the way to the airport. His father had died only days earlier from stress.
Kataria settled in a refugee camp set up by the British government in the city of Leicester. But he found it impossible to get a job.
"You just gritted your teeth, and you just survive from day to day," he recalls. "The strength comes from within, it comes from families, because Indians, fortunately, have a strong family tradition. And not only that, there are various communities and institutions and celebrate festivals, religions ..."
He eventually found work in the commercial sector in London. But perhaps more importantly, having experienced the hardship of prison and a brutal regime, he dedicated himself to serving the community, becoming a local politician and lobbying the British government to eradicate discrimination against ethnic minorities.
Kataria is retired, settled in a large four-bedroom house with a manicured garden in north London, and has been happily married for 36 years to a fellow Ugandan Indian. The couple has a grown-up daughter.
He spends his spare time keeping an eye on the stock market, updating 53 Facebook groups about Hindu philosophy and volunteering at a local old people's home.
The UK, he says, is undoubtedly his real home. "Africa was not really our country. We happened to be there because of the empire and all that. My father was a British subject when he was born, I was a British subject when I was born, so Britain has become my country. And it's going to be my daughter's country. At least in this country, one can live one's life in a dignified way."
"I've never felt I'm discriminated because I'm Bulgarian," says Dessi Hristova, 34, who lives and works in London.
"I can hear, from time to time, some comments; but I would never say they were really nasty comments. I think it's mostly fear," she says, commenting on the surge of interest in Eastern European migrants to the UK after employment restrictions were lifted last year.
Hristova was born in Gabrovo, a city in the north of Bulgaria. After completing a degree in Politics and European Studies, she spent a year studying at Oxford University as part of an exchange program, where she also met her future husband. She eventually made the move to London in 2011.
Spending many years working with the charity sector in Bulgaria, Hristova started out as a volunteer working for an NGO that fights global corruption.
Aside from fighting injustice, Hristova has also volunteered for the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB), motivated by her own father's blindness.
"I'm a sighted guide, so what you do is that you're helping people during social weekends, and you're guiding them, on the tube, or helping at events and outings, music events ... We've taken them to St Paul's, Big Ben ..."
Despite integrating and settling in the UK relatively quickly, there are still moments where she feels like an outsider.
"When I speak, people always ask where my accent's from, and I'm like, is that the most important thing? Especially in a place like London ... If I say I'm British, does it make a difference to you, or not?"
But she refuses to take any political rhetoric against Eastern Europeans and her nation to heart as "if you take it personally, that means that they win, in a way. And also, I don't obsess myself with the comments they say."
Blogging and writing about Bulgarians to try and change some of the prejudice, Hristova believes immigrants should not bear the brunt of the real cause of an economic downfall.
"When there's a crisis and the economy isn't working, we fear every single thing that is going to take your job away or make your life harder and you look for someone to blame. Everyone is free to go somewhere else; there are so many British people in Spain, France, or Bulgaria, even."
"I recommend to anyone to go and live abroad for a bit, [for] two months, six months, just to do something that will scare you. Otherwise you'll never be able to open your eyes and just see how we're all the same. Wherever you go, people are the same."
So, where does Hristova feel she belongs?
"I went to a literary festival ... and there was this author, she's Turkish; Elif Shafak. And she said you always have one foot in one place and another foot in another place and you're looking over, and there's like an abyss in between."