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New fund created to help destitute Polish rough sleepers return home

04 March 2013

A Polish man found sleeping rough in north London
A Polish man found sleeping rough in north London

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 homeland.

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.”


The 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 London.


The 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.

People can make a donation via a Just Giving website:

https://www.justgiving.com/Polish-Nationals-Reconnection-Fund