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  • Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland

     

  • MILENA SKUPIŃSKI

  • "That first period after emigration is challenging. This is the moment when you test your character and prove your determination."

     

     

     

    I came to the United Kingdom in 2005 on what I saw back then merely as an adventure. I had just finished a secondary school, and my friend who was studying travel and tourism was about to be sent to Blackpool for work experience. At the very last minute someone dropped out from the group, and she asked me if I wanted to go with her. It did not take me long to think about it - and I decided to give it a try. Consequently, I have stayed here to this day.
     
    After nearly five years I felt confident enough to enrol on a course at Lancaster University. Whilst in full-time education, I kept working in several part-time jobs: during the week I was cleaning in homes and colleges, while at weekends I was doing extra shifts at a local fish and chips shop or a petrol station.
     
    Back then I would sometimes have to cope with some unpleasant situations because of being Polish. One weekend someone at the fish and chips shop threw change in my face and told me to go back to my country after hearing my foreign accent. Fortunately, the more I was climbing up the career ladder, the less exposed I was to such behaviours. In the professional world Poles have a good reputation because everybody knows that when we take on a job, it will be done thoroughly and on time. I believe this recognition of our work ethics has helped me in my career.
     
    These first months after migration are the most challenging. You need to shield yourself from everything that is happening around you and focus exclusively on the goal that you want to achieve so that you do not get stuck in those temporary jobs forever. In a way, this is the moment when you prove your determination, and test own character. This moment will make or break you.
     
    After graduating from the university, I started my work in accounting and carried on gaining further professional qualifications. Right now, I am preparing for another exam which will open the way for me to climb further up the corporate ladder.

    I have applied for a position with the NHS three times - and got lucky third time round. Working in the public sector not only gives me sense of security, but is also genuine pride. We employ over 6,500 people, specialise in really difficult field of cardiology, and every day save lives of people from all over the county being responsible for lives of as many as 400,000 people. Our branches include Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre, but also Cumbria in Lake District.

    There are many women in leadership positions in our trust, so they can inspire us to grow even further. Both the head of my division and the CEO of the Trust are women, which shows there is no glass ceiling that we need to shatter. Everything is up for grabs.

    Apart from my work in accounting, I also regularly support our Polish patients with translations. Being hospitalised is never easy, but through this work I can support them through this difficult and stressful time.
     
    I sometimes hear people say that immigrants are only a burden for the NHS. My job helps me see the actual state of affairs: I know how much we rely on migrant nurses and doctors, and I am Polish, too. I do my best not to get in any heated debates about it, because it seems to be literally impossible to bring them round to a different point of view, and it costs me too much stress.

    I feel these opinions play a prominent role for many members of the public - after all, as many as 67,5 pc of people in Blackpool voted Leave. You get to feel sometimes that some people are not happy about Poles and immigrants. This sentiment and wider uncertainy about Brexit has a certain impact of how I think about my future here. On the other hand, after so many years in the UK, not only do I think, read and write in English but I really genuinely feel that I belong here - and this is something no one will be able to take away from me.

    My Christian faith is important to me, and provides a great way to integrate more with the British, too. I am deeply involved with the local Catholic community, and as the only women and Pole I also support our diocese using my expertise in finance.
     
    In recent years the influx of Poles have revived many older parishes that were on the brink of closing down - but now are thriving once again. It helps us get to know the British a bit better, but also look after our Polish heritage - and, quite simply, stick together.

     

    Words: Jakub Krupa

    Picture: Jadwiga Brontē

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