Polish population in London are estimated to be around 108,000 people. This includes new immigrants as well as people who have been in the country for a number of years and who now identify themselves as Polish. Most Poles living in London are concentrated in the north and east of the city, with larger communities in areas such as Hackney, Islington and Tower Hamlets.
The Poles and the UK
Poles have left an indelible mark on the UK’s history. From 1891 to 1893, 73,000 Polish and Russian immigrants found their way there. Fast forward a century later though, and in 2015 Poles had firmly earned the title of largest non-British citizens in Britain-totalling 916,000 polish people.
Over the last 75 years, Polish emigration to England has been relatively steady. However, two significant moments of large-scale immigration occurred: during and after World War II when over 200,000 displaced Polish troops gained access to British citizenship through the 1947 “Polish Resettlement Act,” and in 2004 with Poland’s induction into the European Union (EU). This most recent influx was fueled by a desire for economic prosperity especially after they became Eu citizens.
Population Size of the Polish Community
In the 2001 UK Census, it was recorded that 60,711 Polish people born and residing in Great Britain (not including Northern Ireland). This figure of polish arrivals had increased to 73,951 by 1991. Fast forward to 2018 and due to an influx of immigrants following Poland’s accession into the EU, according to estimates from the Office for National Statistics there were 832,000 Poles now living in the UK. Making them not only one of – but THE largest overseas populous group within Britain having surpassed even those born/raised in India!
The UK Census of 2011 revealed that more than half a million Polish people were living in England, with the majority residing in Wales (18,023), Scotland (55,231) and Northern Ireland (19,658). Although unconfirmed by officials reports have speculated there may be as many as one million Polish people living within the United Kingdom. The Office for NS has estimated this figure to have risen to 691 thousand polish immigrants by 2020.
Employment and Participating in Social Activities
Across the board, from healthcare to hospitality, Poles are contributing their talents and skills in London as well as other major cities. They’ve also left a mark on sectors like education and banking across various industries worldwide. Moreover, Polish people can be found actively participating in fields such as writing, journalism and photography too! It isn’t until you reach rural towns with lower population densities that they’re typically sought after for labor-intensive jobs such as farming or light industry (places like East Anglia & The East Midlands just to name two.)
The Polish Social and Cultural Association in Hammersmith serves as a hub for many organizations, boasting an exhibition space, theater and multiple restaurants. The Federation of Poles in Great Britain (ZPWB) works to advance the interests of the Polish community living throughout the UK with over seventy different national entities under its umbrella. Additionally, both ZPWB and PSCCA strive to bring awareness about Poland’s fascinating history and culture among British citizens.
Since Poland became a member of the European Union in 2004, Polish culture has become increasingly popular throughout Britain. Most supermarkets now offer food products from Poland for the polish community as well. Furthermore, there is an abundance of new publications that come out frequently; including several free magazines with both news content and advertising which are especially booming right now! In Blackpool, there is even one newspaper called Witryna Polska that has its very own online edition for their readership convenience.
Education and Polish Culture
Since the EU’s expansion, many Polish families have chosen to migrate to the UK and brought their children with them. This influx of polish migration has put pressure on schools and language support services. However, research indicates that these polish students are performing impressively in British schools despite any language barriers they may face. Surprisingly enough, it turns out that having Polish pupils enrolled in a school can actually help improve the performance of other students!
In 2018, the Coalition Government intended to terminate assessment exams in Polish and other languages at GCSE and A-Level due to their diminishing public interest. Fortunately, these plans were disregarded after a petition organized by the Polish Educational Society raised vehement disputes in Parliament.
Integration of the Polish Community and Intermarriage
It is no surprise that the integration of Polish people to the UK mirrors prior trends, influenced by where they can choose to live based on their economic capabilities, educational and occupational standings, as well as existing ethnicities. Statistics from 2012 demonstrate this trend – out of 21 000 babies born to Polish mothers, most had fathers with similar backgrounds while a few were from other ethnicities.
A total of 16,656 babies were registered as having Polish parents from European backgrounds (other white and British) in 2014. A noteworthy 702 infants had Polish moms and dads from African origins, while 749 children (polish born people) had a combination of Polish mothers and fathers with their roots set on Asian or Middle Eastern descent. Making a huge percentage of UK population populated by Poles distributed almost everywhere.
Polish Communities – Polonophobia in Britain before and after the European Union
In Scotland, bilingual signs have been erected to inform fishermen of their legal limits as well as warn Polish citizens against trespassing on private waters – a necessary directive due to the increased presence of Polish workers in Britain at the start of the 21st century. Sadly, this has not stopped any instances discrimination or violence towards them. In 2007 alone, there were 42 reported “racially motivated violent attacks” committed against people with polish descent living in Britain compared with 28 during 2004.
On 11th July 2012, the Polish Association of Northern Ireland urgently demanded a resolution after several bonfires around Belfast were sighted being lit with burning Polish flags on Eleventh Night.
On July 26th, 2008, The Times featured an article by restaurant reviewer Giles Coren that expressed anti-Polish sentiment. Coren cited his Jewish ancestry as the basis for his opinion; believing that Poles had persecuted and driven out Jews from Poland following the Holocaust and Second World War.
Coren blamed the Polish diaspora in Britain for the lack of prosperity they had initially anticipated, stating that if their new home did not meet expectations then “they can clear off out of it”. The derogatory term ‘Polack’ was used to refer to these immigrants.
Unabashedly espousing anti-Polish culture attitudes in their political campaigns, the British National Party (BNP) was vehement in its call to ban all Polish migrants from entering Britain. During its 2009 European Elections campaign, they even utilized an image of a Second World War Spitfire fighter plane under the slogan “Battle for Britain”.
The photograph that was used, however, turned out to be a Spitfire belonging to the Polish No.303 Squadron of the Royal Air Force! John Hemming, Liberal Democrat MP for Yardley Birmingham could not help but ridicule the BNP on their mistake: “Their policy is to send Poles back home – and yet they use this plane as part of their latest campaign? It’s beyond belief!”
In January 2014, a Polish national wearing his nation’s flag on his helmet was assaulted by an angry mob of fifteen individuals outside a pub in Dagenham, London. The victim accused the then Prime Minister David Cameron’s speeches as inciting this violence against him. Around that same time frame in Belfast, there were seven brutal attacks against Polish homes within just ten days. Stones and bricks hurled at their windows without warning or reason.
It is evident that the Polish diaspora in Britain has faced much discrimination and violence due to their difference in background. Despite this, Poles have continued to make a positive contribution to British society through various professions and businesses. We must recognize our shared humanity with those of different backgrounds, cultures, races or religions if we are to create an inclusive society for all.
Therefore it is important for us to work towards eliminating any forms of xenophobia or Polonophobia from our communities so that everyone can feel safe and respected regardless of their nationality or ethnicity. It is also essential that government policies do not perpetuate negative stereotypes against polish immigrants but instead provide protection from hate crimes while promoting understanding between diverse individuals. Together let’s strive towards creating a more equitable world where people will be judged by who they are rather than what they look like!