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Blog: Celebrating Scotland’s older Polish communities

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24 April 2024

Since the first recorded migration of Polish people to Scotland in the 15th century, many millions have made the country their home.

During and after World War II marked one of the largest influxes, with Polish migrants moving to Scotland against a background of growing political turmoil in Poland.

In the past seven decades, the Polish community has flourished and are now well established in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Falkirk, Kirkcaldy and elsewhere. Some of the post-war Polish migrants, who came to Scotland as youngsters, are now older members of the community.

One of the earliest recordings of an older Polish person’s organisation was Polish Connections Scotland. With the support from Lothian Region Social Work department, Polish organisations in Edinburgh and Age Concern Scotland, Ogniszko was set up to create Scotland’s only Polish lunch and social club in 1995.

Now Age Scotland now supports three thriving Polish older people’s groups, Polski Klub Seniora in Aberdeen, Feniks: Aktywni 50+ in Edinburgh and Sikorski Seniors Club in Glasgow. All three groups were formed with the intention of reducing the feelings of loneliness and isolation and providing services to those facing language barriers, activities with a lack of cultural appropriation and social inclusion.

With the guidance from our ethnic minority community development officer, the community groups became Age Scotland members in the past year. Since becoming members, they have benefited from the community grants programme to support and develop activities and/or to maintain their current programmes. They have also taken the initiative to be more involved with Age Scotland from attending training workshops to participating in the Big Survey consultation.

To celebrate and connect the three Polish groups, a Polish Older People’s Network Meeting event was held in Glasgow’s Sikorski Polish House in September 2023. This allowed members from the three areas an opportunity to gather and forge wider social connections.

The event included presentations by Age Scotland on benefits and energy, with topics translated on PowerPoint slides which were also printed out for distribution along with interpretation services to create an inclusive environment for the attendees.

A Polish speaking solicitor talked about our partnership with the Solicitor for Older People Scotland, which includes a free Will writing service, advice on legal issues and Power of Attorney.

At the end of what was a very successful network meeting, there was a sense of camaraderie and collaborative plans to prepare another network meeting in 2024.