Homelessness charity Thames Reach has teamed up with the Polish
Embassy in London to encourage Poles who have successfully settled in the UK to
help their compatriots who have ended up destitute on the streets.
The Polish Nationals Reconnection Fund has been launched to help
organisations working with Polish rough sleepers on the streets of the capital
to pay for their reconnection back to their families or into services in their
It comes off the back of a growing problem in London where of the
5,678 rough sleepers met by outreach teams last year, 574 were of Polish
origin, representing 11 per cent of the total, by far the biggest number of
people from one country other than the UK.
An event to raise awareness of the
predicament facing destitute Poles in the UK and to promote the new fund, took
place at the Polish Embassy last week.
It was attended by Polish nationals living
in the UK who witnessed speeches and presentations by Richard Blakeway, Deputy
Mayor for Housing, Land and Property, and from three voluntary
organisations – The Passage, Barka UK and Thames Reach – on their work and the
successes they have already achieved. Thames Reach’s London
Reconnection Project has helped approximately 2,000 Central and Eastern
Europeans to return home with dignity to the safety of their families or
services that can help them deal with any support issues, since its inception
in early 2009.
Jeremy Swain, Thames Reach Chief Executive, said: “Since the EU accession, hundreds of thousands of Poles
have come to the United Kingdom in search of employment and better living
conditions. While most of them have been highly successful and made a positive
contribution to the UK economy and society, some Poles have been unable to find
jobs, falling into a destitution trap.
“As the number of Poles living in abject
conditions in the UK has dramatically grown in recent years, this issue needs
to be given much more attention. More support and funding is needed from the
Poles who have prospered in the UK to help homelessness organisations reduce
significantly the number of their fellow countrymen who are sleeping out.”
Dariusz Laska, the Polish Deputy
Ambassador, said: Poles in the United Kingdom have always been trying to
support those less successful among them, who didn’t adapt to the new reality.
It was the case after the World War II, it was the case in the 1980’s, and it
is the case now. By helping organizations such as Barka, Thames Reach and the
Passage, we can support our fellow countrymen in need and I’m sure that many of
us will do so after this event.”
event at the embassy featured a new hard-hitting ten-minute film which shows
the desperate reality of life on the streets and followed a real-life
reconnection back to Poland of two men who had ended up sleeping rough in
Polish Nationals Reconnection Fund could potentially cover a variety of
different expenses including the cost of temporary accommodation, an alcohol
detoxification if it is required, travel, food, ID and clothing.
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