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   Inside Out - North West: Monday November 13, 2006

Polish workers

Blackpool - a proud tradition of Polish links

There has been a huge influx of Eastern Europeans over the last 12 months in the North West of England.

Blackpool in particular has attracted large numbers of migrants.

There are estimated to be 20,000 Eastern Europeans, mostly Poles, now living and working in the resort and surrounding area.

Inside Out tells the story of Anna Gadomska and fellow eastern Europeans who have settled in the Lancashire town.

Anna's story

Anna Gadomska comes from Cieszyn in the south of Poland.

She came to Blackpool to look for work in September 2005.

"In Poland I am a journalist but here I have been working in a restaurant at the Pleasure Beach.

"But I also write a Polish website for the Blackpool Gazette. The website is for Poles who are living in the Blackpool area."

She started the website to meet he needs of the growing Polish community:

"There's obviously a growing Polish population in the Blackpool area and we very much wanted to do something that would meet their needs as far as news and information goes, much as we would do for other communities.

"A lot of people are moving to this area, a lot of people don't speak the language and we really wanted speak the language and we really wanted to do something that would help them."

Flexible working

The Pleasure Beach employs lots of Eastern Europeans - it allows them to work for a season and go home at the end of it.

The main differences between working in eastern Europe and England is wages because as waitress Janka Dojcsanova explains:

"First of all it's the money… Yes, it's the wages. You can earn a lot of money and of course you can save a lot of money here in England.

"Life in Slovakia is not so easy as here in England...

"I am saving money now and I will take it when I want to go home but at the moment I want to stay here."

Blackpool beach
Blackpool - home to thousands of Polish workers

Cook Leszek Kraska was also attracted to Blackpool by the prospect of higher wages:

"For me Blackpool is alright. I have met a lot of people from all over the world, a lot of people from Poland, I am very young so I am glad that I am here.

"The staff are very nice, the managers, my manager, are very helpful so I appreciate it and I thank you that I can work here in England."

There are now so many young Polish people working in Blackpool that the Club Sanuk nightclub has a Polish night every week.

DJ Andrzej Drygas enjoys entertaining his fellow Poles:

"I think the Polish people really love to enjoy their free time.

"They[are] coming over here because they don't have to, for example, speak English - they speak Polish...

"They work really hard all week and you know for just a few hours a week they go out, forget about all the stuff, you know, pay the bills, wake up tomorrow morning to work - just relax."

Older generation

Polish people have been coming to Blackpool for different reasons for a very long time and the town has been welcoming to them over many years.

Ted Ruman was one of 17,000 Polish airmen who came to Blackpool during the Second World War.

Ted was decorated for his bravery during the war but afterwards he was unable to return to Poland because he feared he would be jailed for opposing communism.

"I hope within the next few years Poland will really stand on their feet and won't need to leave the country to earn some money elsewhere. And let's hope I'm right."
Ted Ruman

There were over 17,000 Polish airmen in this country, together with the Royal Air Force, as Ted explains:

"After the war I stayed here… I said I'll come for a few weeks, but this few weeks was... years."

Ted wasn't granted a visa to visit Poland for 25 years until 1971 when he was first allowed back into the country.

He has since been able to visit Poland every year, but he has been resident in the UK since the war.

Ted sees the influx of more young Poles to Blackpool as a positive development:

"Well, I know quite a few owners of the hotels in Blackpool and speaking to them they are very very happy.

"They are good workers, they come on time, they are hard workers and so on and they are very very satisfied…

"And I hope within the next few years Poland will really stand on their feet and won't need to leave the country to earn some money elsewhere.

"And let's hope I'm right."

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