Where are we, Poles, today?
Currently about 700, 000 Poles are residing in Great Britain, the majority of which live in London. The final wave of Polish immigration arrived after May 1st, 2004, the time in which the labour market opened for European accession states and their citizens. Poles nowadays are the largest ethnic minority group in the United Kingdom, greater than the previously dominant Indian, Pakistani, Irish and American groups. As a result, Polish is the second most often used language, that is straight after English.
But what exactly prompted Poles to leave their home country in the first place? How are they doing in the foreign country? What opportunities are available to them for the growth of their career? Are they expressing interest in the politics of their host country, and if so are they actively participating in them? With whom do they make friends? In what language do they speak with their children? Do they practice Polish traditions? What is their relationship with Poland? And what is their attitude towards the European Union, and its further integration? Do they intend to return to their home country, and if so, on what conditions?
In the tenth anniversary of Poland’s accession to the European Union, a team of experts from the Centre for International Relations asked the above questions to a diverse – in terms of age, sex, education, occupation, financial situation and family status – group of Poles who have been living in London for a several years. The answers will be featured in a special report, through videos, as well as in brief participant profiles. The project allowed to illustrate an interesting collective portrait of Polish expatriate – that of the last wave of immigration – communities living in Britain, by outlining objections and possible incentives of their return to Poland. Recommendations on how to strengthen Polish identity as well as the actual relationship with Poland, particularly for those who do not intend to return, were also singled out in the project.