The Brit-Polonian Connection
By Robert Strybel, "The Polish Answer Man" The Brit-Polonian Connection
By Robert Strybel, Polish/Polonian Affairs Writer
ul. Kaniowska 24
01-529 Warsaw, Poland
Over the past four years, since Poland’s
joined the European Union, more than two millions Poles have found work abroad,
mainly in the British Isles. The result has been the
emergence of a completely new Polonia. New Polish publications, Web sites,
businesses and organizations have been set up. Many previously poorly attended
or nearly-defunct Catholic parishes have bee revitalized, and thousands of
Polish babies have been born. In those parts of England,
Ulster and Ireland
where Polish migrant workers are concentrated, they are often sufficiently
numerous to influence their surroundings. In the future, the recent influx of
Polish immigrants may become a significant political force in the United
Kingdom and Ireland.
Whatever the case, there are now enough new-wave Poles in the British Isles to
warrant a closer look at some of their activities.
Who are the Britain-bound Poles: Poles account from
two-thirds to three-fourths of the Central and East Europeans who have been
flooding into the British Isles since those countries
entered the European Union in 2004. Most fall into the 18-34 age bracket, and
average age of the Polish immigrant is popularly estimated at 28. The large
majority of these are single, but many are expected to choose their future
spouses from amongst fellow-migrants. The usually reliable Centre for Economics
and Business Research calculates that the average migrant worker earns £20,000
per year (about $40,000), roughly six times more than the average wage in Poland.
Much of it is sent back to families in Poland.
Unlike the intial wave of Polish migrants who mainly found menial jobs as
construction workers, janitors, cleaners, truck drivers, waitresses,
care-givers and domestics, more and more are now working in banks and offices
or going into businesses for themselves. Some plan to settle permanently,
others intend to return to Poland
after setting aside a nest-egg, but a great many are keeping their options.
Ealing – London’s
“Greenpoint”: Many demobilized Polish World War II soldiers and other DPs
settled in this London borough
which continues to attract a successive wave of Polish newcomers. Today, the
average young Polish immigrant lives there and in the surrounding area with
other young Poles, watches Polish television and listens to Polish Radio, reads
Polish news on the internet, communicates by phone with family and friends at
home for little or nothing, travels back cheaply by coach or air for holidays
or family celebrations, goes to mass at the local Polish church, shops in one
of the innumerable “Polskie Delikatesy” where Polish delicacies and Polish
newspaper and magazines are available. He or she also tends to socializes in
Polish cafés, pubs and clubs. Some Britons resent the Poles’ ethnic solidarity,
but from a purely sociological point of view this is only yet another Polonian
community in the making.
Reaching Brit-Pols via “Polish Express”: Since being
established October 2003 “Polish Express” has into the UK’s
biggest Polish weekly newspaper. With a circulation of 60,000 copies, it
provides some 250,000 readers with Polish, Polonian, British and world news,
sports, entertainment, information on jobs, careers and property as well as
classified ads. The online edition of “Polish Express” (www.polishexpress.co.uk/en/newspaper.aspx?id=3)
is available in both Polish and English-language versions. Those
interested in targeting the UK’s
Polish community or obtaining more information may contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone:
0 208 96 444 88, extension 401.
in the UK:
The arrival of well over a million Poles has significantly influenced the
religious life of the United Kingdom.
Polish Catholic Mission for England
recognizes 83 Polish communities with 163 center where mass is celebrated in
Polish. Besides the spiritual benefits of attending Sunday mass in their native
tongue, for Poles it is also a social occasion–an opportunity to meet friends
and enjoy various cultural activities offered by the parishes. There are
arrivals are alone and seek the familiarity of the church and presence of
fellow Poles. There are 12 Polish
Parishes in London, the most
popular being Mother of the Church Parish in Ealing, Our Lady of Czestochowa (Islington),
Christ the King (Balham) and St Andrew Bobola (Hammersmith.) Other parishes
have increased their number of masses to meet the growing Polish demand.
Poles at British universities: More and younger
Poles are now seeking an academic education. At present some 7,000 young Poles
are enrolled at British universities, a 56 percent increase over 2007. Poles
now rank in sixth place among the European Union at British institutions of
higher learning, ahead of students from Italy
According to university official Emma Short, “Poles are ambitious, diligent,
intelligent and have an excellent command of English.”
“Daily Mail” accused of defaming Poles: The
Federation of Poles in Great Britain,
the British Polonia’s main umbrella organization, has filed a complaint to the
Press Complaints Commission accusing the “Daily Mail” of defaming Polish
residents in the United Kingdom.
The FPGB claimed the paper had a deliberate policy aimed at encouraging
discrimination against immigrants, in particular Poles and their families.
However, a spokesman for the Daily Mail, dismissed these charges, claiming, Britain’s
second-largest newspaper provides balanced reporting about Poles. “We do
reserve the right to criticize bogus asylum claims, benefit cheats and tax dodgers
no matter where they were born,” he added.
Scotland fears Poles’ departure:
A study carried out at Strathclyde University has warned that the economy of Scotland, which has become highly dependent on Polish migrants,
could suffer when they return home. The most vulnerable to the future
withdrawal of the migrant workforce include the hospitality, construction and
food-processing industries as well as agriculture. Of the Poles who came to
work in Britain last year, 60% said they intended to stay in the country
for several months and only eight percent planned to remain for more than two
years. The soaring value of the euro against the British pound means Scottish
wages are now less attractive as a source of funds to send home to relatives in
Poland. High euro-paying Germany could siphon off many of the Poles when it opens its labor
market to migrants workers in 2011.
Polonizing the British bobby: A decade ago the
Thames Valley Police used to spent around ₤80,000 ($160,000) a year on
translation, but with the influx of large number of Poles into such areas as
Slough translation costs have risen to about ₤1 million ($2 million). Policemen
have also been enrolling in Polish-language courses and a booklet containing
basic phrases encountered in police work has been issued. Polish immigrants
have been hired by the police to answer emergency phone calls from their
compatriots, Across the British Isles the demand for Polish policemen has
English girls bully Polish
rivals: Pretty Polish girls have
become targets of jealousy and bullying by British schoolgirls who claim their
classmates no longer pay much attention to them. And British schoolboys are
known to pick fights with their Polish rivals to win a Polish girlfriend.
Polish girls are especially vulnerable in classes where they are greatly
outnumbered. In addition to name-calling and other forms of mental abuse,
attractive Polish schoolgirls sometimes get pushed around so badly that they
have to change schools. Some have developed anemia, depression, ulcers and
other gastric problems due to the stress and want to return to Poland.
Young Irishman kills two Poles: A seventeen-year-old
Irishman has been arraigned by a Dublin
juvenile court on charges of killing two Polish immigrants during an argument.
The Poles, Pawel Kalita, 29, and Mariusz Szwajkos, 27, died of multiple stab
wounds with a screwdriver after they refused to buy alcohol for a gang of
underage Irish toughs. The crime triggered widespread outrage across Ireland,
prompting Irish President Mary McAleese to attend the Poles’ funeral mass
celebrated by Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.