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11 October 2007updated 27 Sep 2015 5:20am

We’re good workers

Jo Barrett hears the stories of a few of Britain’s Polish visitors

By Jo Barrett

Adam Mosko, 24, from Zory. He lives in East Dulwich, London and works as a builder

“I used to be a ballet dancer, but I had a bad knee and went travelling. This is where I stopped. I like England. London is different from anything I have ever known. I’m not planning to move. Maybe later. When I think of home I think of London instead of Poland. Working as a builder is quite different from being a dancer, but I’m not feeling sorry for myself. The wages here are better. I can’t complain.”

Maciej Sadza, 26, from near Lodz. He lives in Hertfordshire and works as an IT manager

“I’ve enjoyed England so far. It has its disadvantages – like housing, transport and the terrorism threat. In general, English people are welcoming and open. I’ll stay a few years but I’ll probably be going back to Poland. I will vote. I’ve been watching the campaign on the internet and I’ll go back sooner to Poland if the parties deliver on their promises.”

Alicja Bojarska, 56, from Wroclaw. She lives in Ealing and works in Polanka’s deli in Hammersmith, west London

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“I haven’t really enjoyed living in London. When I came here 20 years ago, it was very, very different. I was thinking of leaving London and going back to Poland, actually. It’s cheaper and quieter; if you’re not concerned about politics it’s fine. I think London was probably better before Britain joined the EU.”

Hania Kotewicz, 30, from Torun. She lives in Oxford and works as a scientist

“I came initially to study English so I did that for three years. Then I got a job, so I decided to stay a bit longer. I used to think my long-term future was here, but I’ve found it very expensive and impossible to buy a house.”

Jan Mokrzycki, 74, from Warsaw. He is a retired dentist; chairman of the Federation of Poles

“I’ve been here since 1948. I was brought by my mother, who was freed from a concentration camp by the Americans. She was a doctor working for the Polish army. I went to school in Bolton and to Newcastle University. They are the nicest people up north. I’m very integrated – I was the first Pole to stand for the British parliament.”

Ewa Michalik, 59, from Grebów. She owns the Patio restaurant in Shepherd’s Bush, west London, with her husband

“I’d like to vote in the Polish elections, but not for the old generation of politicians who want to come back. I’ve been in London 36 years. I escaped in 1970 as a young student. I’m happy that people like the new wave of Poles who have arrived in London, though some people suffer because of jobs. But most English people like the new migrants, as they are good at building, cooking, cleaning and looking after children. They do the jobs the English don’t want to do.”

Daniel Tokarczyk, 27, from Bielsko-Biala. He lives in Kensal Rise, north-west London, and works for the Polish Express newspaper

“There is something that makes you feel you don’t belong in this city; something is missing. Sometimes I wake up and think: ‘What am I doing here?’ I miss lots of things – mainly friends and family and my city, which is more beautiful than London and surrounded by mountains. The good thing is it is only 1,500km away. If you have the money, you can go every weekend.”

Magda Malik, 21, from Kraków. She lives in south London and works at the Polish White Eagle Club in Balham

“I’ve been here 18 months. I work as a waitress. I thought it would be fun – but I will go back to Poland maybe in three or four years, after I’ve saved some money. I’m planning to vote in the elections, but not for the Kaczynski brothers [Polish president and PM]. I am more liberal. I can vote right here at the White Eagle Club.”

Aleksandra Bartosova, 30, from Katowice. She works in marketing for Polish Radio London and has been here four months

“It was my husband’s idea to come here. He’s a cook and wanted to find a really good job in a luxury five-star hotel. It’s been an adventure. Many Poles came to the UK because they wanted to make big money and because the political situation in Poland is not very good right now. Women from Poland often end up in cleaning jobs here, so it’s really good to be working in marketing.”

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