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 www.frompoland.org.uk