Woman Receives Award For Supporting Polish Migrants

A woman has been given an award for helping Polish migrants settle into the UK after herself migrating to the UK in the 1990s. 

Barbara Storey was handed the Polish National Honour recently by the ambassador of Poland, Piot Wilczek, and the Lord Mayor of Southampton, Jacqui Rayment, following the success of her organisation SOS Polonia.

The group was created to support Polish migrants in Southampton communities, offering advice and guidance. Barbara knows what it is like to move to the UK, having relocated here to give her children an English education.  

She went on to marry and stay here, falling in love with both her husband Peter and England. 

It was Peter who helped me fall in love with England,” she said, adding: “I came from a communist country where they were lying about the West. Through Peter, I learned the proper history.”

Having been here for 30 years, she now says: “My heart is shared by both Poland and England.”

SOS Polonia was launched in 2005 and believes it can now help other communities of migrants, particularly war refugees, including Ukrainians and Afghanis. 

“That is what we plan to do, solidarity in crisis,” Barbara commented. 

The SOS Polonia Trust offers English classes, coffee mornings for people to get to know one another and a football club. It also has a community centre that provides information and signposts to other relevant services. 

Of course, becoming fluent in English takes years and there are some documents that require a high standard of the language to write or understand, such as legal reports. In these cases, Polish translation services can be beneficial.