apart - Dorota Bawolek talks to old and new immigrants
In the Midlands somewhere between 40,000 and 70,000 Eastern
Europeans have come to live and work over the last couple of years.
everywhere else in Britain, the vast majority are Polish.
But then for many
cities in the Midlands there's nothing new about Polish immigration.
asked one of the Midlands newest residents, Dorota Bawolek, to find out about
the Poles who've already made cities like Coventry their home.
From humble beginnings, Polish people have made good
lives for themselves since they first settled in Britain after the war.
most, like Jan Jankowski, were too frightened to return home after the war.
didn't like the Russians, and they didn't like us," he recalls.
if I went back, I went back to jail, back to Siberia
who knows some were
shot as well."
Hundreds of thousands of people
like Jan were forced out of Poland during the war.
Many Poles joined the
British forces - hoping to help liberate their country.
But when the war
ended, with Poland under Russian occupation, most decided to stay in Britain.
Over 100,000 Poles settled in Britain after the
Second World War.
Most went to live in former army bases and prison camps.
Jan Jankowski was sent to one near Leominster in the West Midlands.
back - Dorota and Jan return to the resettlement camp|
and Jan returned to the resettlement camp for the first time in decades.
60 years since I have been here and I never thought I would be alive to see it
again," says Jan poignantly.
Once he got his life sorted out,
Jan enjoyed his new life in England:
"I found life
fairly easy, altogether, we have no trouble."
But not everyone found life in England so easy.
In the 1931 Census
there were 44,462 people claiming Poland as their birthplace.
who arrived during the Second World War and stayed on, constitute the core of
the present-day Polish community.
1947: Polish people homeless
because of the War were invited to come to UK.
In 1951 there
were 162,339 Polish-born people in Britain. By 1971 the figure had dropped to
In the years after the war Polish workers suffered
insults and even physical attacks from their fellow workers, as Jan Jankowski
"It was not widespread, but there was enough to put the thought
in our head, 'are we welcome'?
"And after we had fought side by side,
and I think that really hurt."
Sixty years after they first arrived,
these older Poles have now lived most of theirs lives in Britain.
this time they set up their own clubs, schools and even a radio station.
Apart was set up 15 years ago for the thousands of Polish people who already lived
in Coventry - its programmes are broadcast in Polish.
But the Polish clubs
the old migrants set up are now welcoming a new generation of immigrants.
Jan Jankowski is enthusiastic about the new Poles
coming to live in the Midlands.
"I think it is fantastic.
You have revitalised our old community, you have filled our churches, you can
get Polish goods in supermarkets
where before you had to look for them."
he believes that it was harder to settle in the UK in his day:
is easy for you, because in my day, when I came here, Coventry was bombed.
come here and there are plenty of houses, admittedly they are expensive, but they
got a roof over their head."
Despite some early hardships, Jan is remarkably
upbeat and positive:
"Actually I enjoyed life. This is
the country that gave me everything what I have."
big web debate
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Poles talking about life in Hereford
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