Research highlights Polish contribution to Waltham Forest

Submitted by: Esther Freeman

A new study launched in April reveals the significant  contribution to Waltham Forest by Polish migrants and their children.

Conducted  by Share UK , a not- for-profit organisation based in Walthamstow,  the study  includes interviews with Polish people  and people with   Polish   heritage   in Waltham Forest. The families all came to Britain from Poland between 1834 and 2014. Key findings include:

  • Over 90% of those  interviewed said their families wished to assimilate with British society
  • In almost all cases, second  and third generation   Polish  migrants made  a significant contribution to British society, including in teaching, the media and business.
  • Of those who came in the most recent migration   wave  (1989 topresent), 60% couldn’t speak English when   they arrived,  but  quickly become fluent, as did their children.

A recent study by University College London revealed that Eastern European migrants contributed £5bn to the UK public finances between 2000 and 2011.

The study by Share UK argues that the economic contribution of    the  children of migrants should also be measured or estimated to fully appreciate   the contribution  of these communities.

Esther Freeman from Share UK said: “Previous studies, and indeed our politicians, don’t take into account the benefit to society that the children of migrants bring. Within our study we  interviewed  second  and third generation migrants, including two university professors, a journalist and a successful entrepreneur.

“The children of migrants from the current wave of Polish migration, which began in 2004 when Poland entered the EU, are in most cases still quite young. We’ll have to wait to see what they go on to offer society, but if we look at the patterns from previous waves, the expectation is that they will contribute  significantly in one way or another. Let’s not forget, one of the biggest British institutions – Tesco – was started  by the son of a Polish migrant;  and one of  the people recently vying to be our new Prime Minister is the son of a Polish migrant. You have to ask, would either of these people’s families got into the country with some of the immigration policies being proposed today?”

The study   was  conducted   in Waltham Forest, which has seen a huge swell in Polish migrants over the last 10 years. Currently  they make up the second largest migrant group in the borough, and Polish is the third most spoken language after English and Urdu.

The full study, including the in-depth interviews with Polish migrants can be found at