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Why Poles love coming to Britain

A Polish friend who lived in south London and is unhappy about the recent influx of Polish immigrants to Britain has caused havoc on his commute to work. It’s not due to the huge number of Poles who are now taking buses, however, rather because “10 to 15 or more years back, you would be in an open bus and be able to listen conversations that were intimate with Polish people. They would talk about all sorts of antics and talk with loud voices because they believed that no one else could be able to understand the language.

“Now,” he adds, “the whole bus is Polish. This means that nobody talks about anything interesting anymore.”

Polish It was discovered this week is the most widely spoken non-native tongue in England as well as Wales. Nearly half a million residents living in Britain are now using Polish as their primary language, which puts the language ahead Punjabi as well as Urdu and just behind English as well as Welsh. The information, derived from the census in 2011 confirmed the staggering number of Polish migrants currently living in, working and establishing their roots within the UK. More than 521,000 Polish people have moved to the UK which has been seven times higher since 2003, when only 75,000 were recorded as part of the census.

In many areas of Britain these figures are not a surprise. The increasing number of Poles to the UK has been apparent for years in the vast numbers of Polish grocery stores, grocers, churches , and cultural centers which have sprung up throughout the country, especially since 2004 which was the date that Poland was admitted to into the European Union, opening up borders to the workers to move freely. Alongside the established Polish communities in the west – London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Nottingham and Slough – smaller hubs have been established in rural areas, including Carlisle situated in Cumbria (twinned to the Polish town of Slupsk) and in the Scottish Highlands.

Over the past 10 years, Polish culture has ingrained itself into British society. The majority of major supermarkets, such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose are now selling Polish foods and drinks. There are ten Polish church buildings within London alone, located in areas like Balham and Ealing and signs for roads have been translated to Polish in towns around Cheshire. There are a myriad of Polish-owned bars, clubs, and bars, a loved paper (founded around 1940) and cultural centers which regularly stage sold-out Polish shows and plays.

According to data from the Office for National Statistics, Poland is the most popular birthplace of non-UK birth mothers in Britain with 20,495 children being born in 2011 to Polish mothers in the year 2011. The marriages that are between Poles and Brits as well, have grown exponentially. Poles have been British homeowners and business owners, as well as taxpayers. How have they like no other nation before them have achieved this level of integration into the British society in such a short amount of time?

The capacity of Poles to be integrated seems to be related to the reasons why they are drawn into Britain initially in the first in the first. “Work,” explains Robert Szaniawski of the Polish Embassy in London, “is the main reason for bringing Poles into the UK. The majority of them are young, and they’re mostly born in small towns. They think it’s an opportunity to go out and experience something new and so they move to Britain.

“They’re flexible and are able to change according to the demands of the market for labour. It’s their willingness to go wherever the job is that allows them to establish a rapport with themselves.”

The Polish economy is considerably less than Britain’s ($514.5 billion, as compared to Britain’s $2.43 trillion) There is a the highest rate of joblessness (averaging 12 percent from the year 2008) while the minimum wage for an hour is lower than half the amount offered in Britain. The slowing of Poland’s growth is slowing down – it dropped half to just 2 percent in 2012 – even the most skilled people are being lured towards the UK. In 2011, more than 45,000 Poles moved to the UK, marking the largest increase in immigrants since the financial crisis.

Poles have a reputation of being hard-working, particularly in the field of manual labour. Adam Zamoyski, a British historian who is a descendant of an Polish high-ranking family claims that Polonia UK can be described as “brilliant workers. While they’re away they make sure they are a good ambassador and are ambassadors for their countries. They enjoy a much better experience in England as opposed to Germany as well as France. They’re considered to be a burden in other countries. In England they’re treated with courtesy.”

However, with the mass migration is inevitable tension. A lot of British workers blame the constant flow of cash-in hand, cheap Polish laborers in keeping them out of job opportunities. Not all Poles who have settled in Britain have come to the country for lucrative work. Of the 371,000 non-UK citizens who claim unemployment benefits 13,940 are Polish and make the country the only prior EU accession country to be among the top twenty. In 2010 6,777 Poles were found guilty for crimes committed in Britain and there are now over 700 Polish immigrants are in UK prisons (ranking among the top 5 nationalities among the 10,592 foreigners in the bars).

“As with any large population of migrants there’s an underbelly” Zamoyski says. “There are numerous scams involving benefits, where Poles are brought over to work, take their families, and sign them to receive child benefits and then return home with the cash. There are reports of older Poles harassing younger ones as they walk from the bus stops, and, after they have left, extorting them for all their cash.”

In the Second World War that really created the basis in Britain’s Polish community. The Poles contributed significantly to the Allied military effort by offering troops, intelligence, and crucial equipment. Following the fall of France in 1940 and Poland was exiled and the Polish Prime Minister and his administration set their office in London which brought thousands of airmen and soldiers. Poles were the biggest non-British contingent in the RAF during the Battle of Britain and, in July 1945 there were more than 150,000 Polish troops were under the direction of the British Army.

The war came to an end, Churchill vowed that the British would “never forget the debt they owe Poland and the Polish” and vowed “citizenship and the freedom within freedom of the British Empire” for everyone. Fighting against from the Communist regime in Poland Many were unable to return to their homes which led to the passage of the Polish Resettlement Act 1947, the first law governing mass immigration.

The the first wave of Polish migrants laid the basis for the current immigration. Nicola Werenowska, a playwright from Colchester and is married to Leszek, an older Polish immigrant whose family moved to Reading following the outbreak of war. In the course of researching the performance Tu i Teraz (“Here and Now”) which was recently staged in the Hampstead Theatre in London, she surveyed 50 young Poles from Britain on their experience living in the United Kingdom.

“They visit for work, but the history of their migration makes people feel more connected,” she says. “There is generally positive views toward people from the UK within Poland.” Szaniawski agrees: “It’s a friendly, friendly country with an immense tradition of our grandparents and parents visiting to Poland.”

The desire – and the ability to Poles to acquire English is another reason which has been vital to their integration. Based on the Polish Central Statistical Office, 40 percent of Poles aged between 25 and 64 have at least one foreign language, the most common being English and German.

Joanna Pietrzykowska, 27, an accounting student from a town of a tiny size in eastern Poland moved to UK in 2007 to study English. “I first came for a period of time but loved the country so that I’m staying in the UK,” she says. “You can find everything you want here right now — Polish food movies, books in the library. Everywhere I go, there is at most at a Polish person. There is an English boyfriendand have always felt very welcome. There are more job opportunities than in Poland and so why would I ever want to go back?”

However, not all Poles enjoy the same positive experience of Britain. Some, as per Adam Zamoyski, simply don’t wish to be integrated. “They don’t have to master the language. They stay within their communities, which allows you to go all the way from hospital to the grave, without ever needing to speak English.”

Others, such as Sofia Pekala, 54, cleaning lady who came into the UK after a move from Poland from Poland in 2002. They have experienced bad experiences with British employers. “When I first arrived in the UK, I was employed on an agricultural farming farm near Penzance,” says Pekala who had her own clothing shop. “I was treated badly and was paid only PS2.75 per hour to do difficult work in miserable conditions.”

Rafal Zbikowski 34, who moved from Krakow to Boston, Lincolnshire – where 3000 of the 62,243 residents are Polish just eight years after leaving Krakow and says he’s had some issues however he adds: “It has been a excellent job. I moved from Poland to join a factory for food production and have been working for the last eight years.”

What does the future have in store for Britain’s Polish immigrants? Werenowska believes the roots that a lot of Poles have laid will endure. “Of the Polish immigrants I spoke to there were generally two kinds of people,” she says. “The first is the ones who are looking to make the maximum amount of money they can as quickly as they can and return back to the families they have. The other group is those who are in Britain because they love itand truly want to be member in British society. No matter what the fact is that they’re certainly staying.”