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This page was last updated on 08/05/2006 18:11:16

 

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What am I doing here?
08 May 2006

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Catalyst is collecting the stories of immigrants to the UK. If you have a story to add to these, please use the comments box at the bottom of the page.

 

Jarek Kowalik

I have been working in London for two years and it is hard work. I came from a village near Krakow to London with the hope of earning money but it has been less easy that I thought. I now work two jobs one as a KP (kitchen porter) and the other as a cleaner early in the morning. This gives me enough money to live and to save but it also means constantly working. I don’t want to do this forever – I am tired all the time.

At the moment I have a nice boss at the restaurant and the chef makes very nice staff meals and has a joke and all the other staff are very friendly and we sometimes go out for drinks together. Before this I worked somewhere and was just shouted at all the time and the waitresses pretended you were invisible. So that meant working hard and being unhappy. Sometimes I still get asked to do too much or am told off for being lazy but I am not lazy just sometimes very tired.

I like London and have also been to Cornwall to visit some people I know who work there but I want to go back to my home eventually. I think it would be harder to settle down here. There are some successful Polish people here but I think it is more like a holiday, a working holiday and in two years I think it will end.


Ylva – Shoreditch

For me living in England has been wonderful and part of that is the option of meeting so many people of different nationalities. Sweden, where I come from, seems to lack the cosmopolitan atmosphere. For example I live in Shoreditch and you can see Turks and Pakistanis, people from South America, Europe, and America all living and working together.

I initially came to England to study but had visited a few times as my father is originally from the UK although he moved to Sweden when he was young. I was drawn to London because of its reputation for the creative industries and now I am here I can see that many others are drawn by the same thing and that is part of the reason London still produces such exciting art and music and design. At the moment I am working in a fashion shop and also make my own designs to sell at markets. Even though I meet people all day long I have never encountered any hostility. Not that it doesn’t happen – I hear of racist attacks and once heard some drunk men shouting racist abuse at someone in the street. But that shocked me – it just didn’t fit in with my conception of the city.

I have some Swedish friends in London and friends from England and from all over the world and I think increasingly that is how it is. We stitch together friendship groups that are global because it is more creative and interesting and that is why London is good- it welcomes people. I can’t see myself going back. Sometimes I tease my boyfriend that I will have to – that Sweden is calling me and one day her voice will be too loud – but it isn’t true. London is a place of excitement and opportunity I can’t see my career developing as well somewhere else and I would find it hard to leave my friends.

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Links

Safety in numbers? Rachel Pillai looks at why numbers dominate public discussions on migration and how this overshadows the important qualitative contributions migrants make to the UK.

Attitudes to Immigrants: Ann Dummett looks at and assesses a recent survey.

We called for a workforce, but we got humans: Hannah Bevis looks at the history of German immigration, and at continued debate about how the nature of ‘Germanness’ can accommodate the country's Turkish population.

Commission for Racial Equality

Publisher of Catalyst Magazine, the CRE works to create a just and integrated society, where diversity is valued.

openDemocracy

Independent political discussion and debate based on exchange and participation.

Prospect Magazine

A political magazine, Prospect also includes features on arts and culture, science, economics, history, social affairs and philosophy.

Runnymede Trust

The Runnymede Trust promotes a successful multi-ethnic Britain.

Institute of Race Relations

The Institute of Race Relations is a race relations thinktank.

EUMC

The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Social policy research and development.

For more links, see our new links page.

Search Catalyst

Search For:


Promote Catalyst

If you are able to promote Catalyst in your workplace, university etc, please download our poster, a pdf which can be printed at A4 or A3 size.

Small print

Contributor and illustrator information

Articles published in Catalyst do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Commission for Racial Equality.

For advertising or editorial enquiries, please .

rss logo | What is RSS?

This page was last updated on 08/05/2006 18:11:16

 

© Commission for Racial Equality 2007

 

CRE 30 years logo