• Małgorzata Ostalowska
  • Victoria Ostalowska
  • Izabela Topa
  • Monika Topa-Wozniak
Location:
Banff
Date:
Tuesday 18th November 2008
Reference:
SWI2008/011

Monika:

My name is Monika. I come from Poland. I've lived here over two years. I come here for first time ... it was in August 2006, so it’s over two years.

Izabela:

My name is Izabela and I came to Scotland three years ago. I work as a tearoom assistant and youth worker.

Małgorzata:

My name is Małgorzata. I am getting here in July 2006 and I’m from Poland.

Simon:

Who's this? What's the baby called?

     

Małgorzata:

Victoria. She was born this year.

     

Simon:

Jonny told me the group came formally together in March of this year.

     

Monika:

Yeah, that’s right.

     

Simon:

Was that quite a long process that you went through in creating it?

     

Monika:

Yeah, we talked about our association (Association of East European Culture) from ... maybe it was from November last year. But we constituted ourselves in March. Yeah, that’s right.

Izabela:

But I think we should say that, actually, the beginning is the Meeting, the start of ...

     

Monika:

In the beginning it was Meeting Place.

Izabela:

Yeah, the Meeting Place exist for three years. Actually, longer than ... even longer than I’m here. So longer than three years. And was run by development worker, Lada Çopiç. She’s a migrant as well. And she started to run the Meeting Place and she helped other migrants to fill in the forms and just to find out their rights here. Because in the beginning the Polish had difficulty knowing very simple things like housing, how to rent a flat, how to ...

Monika:

How to register in health centre and stuff like that.

Izabela:

Yeah, and how to register in tax or in Inland Revenue. They didn’t know nothing with that so ...

Monika:

Do you know what the Meeting Place is?

Izabela:

The Meeting Place, that’s the name of the meetings every Friday night. About two years ago, Jonny, he started to teach English. He started to teach English in the community centre. And he wished to be ... I think he really wants to do a career as a youth migrant worker ... a youth development worker. He wants to work with migrants so he helped us to do the Meeting Place more formal, as an association.

Simon:

What was the process you went through? Because I know you created the constitution yourselves. You decided for yourselves how the group would be organised and all that. Can you explain that? How that worked and how that evolved and what sort of factors were important for you?

     

Monika:

At first we found people who were interested to do something in there. And at the first meeting we decided that we have to prepare our constitution. So we made the constitution, and when you have the constitution you have to go the bank and open an account and you have an association! Oh yes, and you have to have a Chairman and a Treasurer and you have an association. The next thing you have to know, what you want to do. That’s the point. We have some points in our constitution, what we want to do.

Izabela:

It’s a very basic aim actually to help migrants, not just Polish, to integrate with local society here on a local level. And to encourage local people to be interested in the migrants’ culture and encourage the migrants to be interested in local culture as well.

Monika:

What is important for me in the Association, when we are talking about integration, I would like to let British people know that we are not a UFO. (laughs) We are people as well and ... you know, the main point is that we don’t know English very well so that is the main reason why people don’t understand us, and maybe they are afraid. But we are really normal people! (laughs) We are just working and looking after our children, so the things like that.

Izabela:

And I would like to say that Polish as well, they not always want to integrate with local people.

Monika:

Cos they don’t know English.

Izabela:

But they don’t want to learn English, they don’t want to integrate ...

Monika:

Sometimes, yeah.

     

Izabela:

They don’t want to spend time with local people. Many Polish people, they just want to stay in together with other Polish and they just don’t want to be involved with any community activities and we wish to ...

Monika:

... to change that.

     

Izabela:

Yeah, to change that.

     

Simon:

What kind of events have you done so far? I came to the Halloween party, have you done other public events?

     

Monika:

Yeah!

     

Izabela:

St Andrew’s Day? We plan to organise St Andrew’s Day which is ...

Monika:

St Andrew’s Day, it’s the 28th ...

     

Izabela:

... of November.

     

Monika:

Last Friday of November. And next ...

     

Izabela:

In particular, it should be the last day in November. Because we meet every Friday.

     

Monika:

So it would have to be the 28th. Twenty-eight right? And on the last Sunday it will be the 30th November, we’ll be on Low Street. There is a festival because every year in Banff people are decorating the big Christmas tree on Low Street and we’ll be singing Polish carols.

Izabela:

Actually we have a plan for next year, like St Andrew’s Day for the last Friday of November in the community centre when the festival is on Low Street.

Monika:

In December we’ll be doing something about Christmas.

Izabela:

Party, something like that. Burns’ Night in January, Valentine’s Day in February ... Woman’s Day in March?

Monika:

Woman’s Day in March. I don’t know, you have Woman’s Day?

Simon:

They don’t really celebrate ...

     

Izabela:

8th March.

     

Simon:

We have International Woman’s Day but here it’s not a public holiday.

Monika:

Mother’s Day, Children’s Day ...

Izabela:

The best is the Children’s Day.

Monika:

Yeah. So we have loads of events ...

     

Izabela:

St Andrew’s Day is quite interesting because you have St Andrew’s Day as well but we really celebrate it. We ... That’s a really nice day for children. They have a party, storytellers, teacher for class thing and everything. Just ... Sort of like Halloween, yeah.

Simon:

Cos Halloween’s something very Scottish, it’s a traditional Scottish festival, and from this area is where it comes from but in Poland you normally do All Saints’ Day which is very different.

Monika:

It’s not the same event in Poland. You have the Halloween on last day of October and we have holiday first day of November so it’s absolutely different holiday. You are buying ... for Halloween you are buying fancy dresses, right? Decoration and something like that. In Poland, when it is the first of November you are buying flowers for a cemetery and candles. It’s actually a sad day.

Małgorzata:

I think she likes you ... (laughs) Unlucky!

     

Simon:

So I guess with All Saint’s you won’t be able to celebrate it here because the thing is to go to the cemetery to your family graves?

     

Izabela:

We would not be ... When you have no family in the nearest cemetery there is a main cross group.

Monika:

... because in every cemetery you have the main big cross. You can just go and light the candle and you have to go to the church for a mass.

Izabela:

Actually we could celebrate the holiday because we have Polish priests here and they organise masses for that day and that is actually the most important to Polish.

Simon:

Father Tadeusz, is he the priest you have?

     

Izabela:

No, Father Janusz.

     

Monika:

And Father Jakob.

     

Simon:

Ah. Ah, they’re from Keith!

Monika:

Yes!

     

Simon:

I haven’t met them yet. I’ve met ...

     

Monika:

Father Jakob, he will be here today because he is a teacher in the Polish school.

Izabela:

There were more priests but they change every few months so probably they are coming here to learn English and then they are going somewhere else.

Simon:

I met some of the Moray priests rather than the Aberdeenshire priests. OK, with the Meeting Place, before you were talking about helping people out with language and work issues and things like that. Does your organisation do some of those tasks as well? Does that stay as a separate thing or is that something you ...?

     

Izabela:

The members of the ... a few members of the Association started a Polish school a few weeks ago but the Polish school is actually a separate organisation, separate from the Association, but members of the committee ... like Monika, she is a member of the committee for the Polish school and she is member of the committee of the Association as well so the people sometimes ... the people are sometimes the same and we spoke about Polish school on the meetings of the Association but actually that’s two different organisations.

Monika:

They ask about filling the forms and something like that. It’s not the main task but we are doing the things like that. Sometimes people are coming to the community centre for the Meeting Place just because they need a hub. They are here once, twice or something like that. But it’s good because maybe they will come back! (laughs) Someday! And all of us, we know lots of people which need our help with the forms but it’s actually individual’s job because everybody have friends and he needs translation or something like that so we are here and we are just helping.

Izabela:

We ... All members of the Association, they have some English and they speak some English and people just privately are coming to our houses asking for help. They don’t come for the Association meeting, they are just coming to us. That is why actually we made an association. We thought: “Oh, we are helping people so we could organise that formally!” But it’s actually ... we do this anyway, not just as an association.

Monika:

Not just because we are an association, we are doing that. We taught with the Association ...

     

Izabela:

We stay here for longer time so people who are coming here who live here for ...

     

Monika:

... months, not too long.

     

Izabela:

They are just coming to ask where, how and why. They are coming to join as well, they are coming to join just to make some calls and they even don’t know that something like the Association exists so ... we would like to relate these two things.

Monika:

I don’t know if it is possible! (laughs)

     

Simon:

You also mentioned that it’s not exclusively Polish.

     

Monika:

No.

     

Simon:

I mean I know elsewhere there’s Lithuanians and Latvians ...

     

Monika:

For British as well!

     

Simon:

For British as well?

     

Monika:

Yep. It’s for everybody.

     

Izabela:

That is ... and because the Association of East European Culture is for people who are from East Europe or they share our ... to agree with our aims and to realise the aims with the members so everybody can join the Association. And especially the people from other cultures like Lithuanians or ...

Monika:

Latvians ...

Izabela:

But we ... we have two Latvians at the moment. They are quite busy but ... and other members are really welcomed.

Simon:

Have you been in contact with any other groups that are similar to yourselves? Because there’s quite a number of groups like this starting up. There’s the group in Peterhead that I think has some contact with you.

     

Monika:

We heard about the group in Peterhead. In February there was here ... two or three people from Peterhead was here, but ... Oh sorry, they were from Fraserburgh not from Peterhead so ...

Izabela:

Jonny contacted with the association in Aberdeen, Polish Association. We tried to contact but just many things to do. We tried to contact Polish Association in Aberdeen and in Inverness but actually Jonny is ... (inaudible) ... not.

Monika:

But just now actually we are working alone.

     

Simon:

How does it balance out with your own jobs and families and also having the organisation? How does that work?

     

Izabela:

Ask my husband! (laughs)

     

Simon:

It must be quite demanding.

     

Izabela:

Our husbands are very very happy!

     

Monika:

No suppers!

     

Izabela:

No dinner on a Tuesday!

     

Izabela:

Because women are volunteers!

Monika:

No, you have to have very patient family because of course it takes up your time, it’s normal. I am a housewife so I have the time but I have two children at home and husband so I have to share the time between my voluntary job and between my family. It’s not easy, believe me. It’s not easy because we have quite a lot of jobs, voluntary jobs, with Association, with Polish school now and ... But I try! I try to be in community centre and at home but I think my husband is used to seeing me busy because when I lived in Poland I was always busy so here I can’t just stay at home. It’s not for me! (laughs) And my sister as well because she is my sister.

Izabela:

I have no children, just husband, so I have a little bit easier but me and my sister we are in a Polish class. I ... (inaudible) ... is a meaningful job and I’m trying to involve some younger Polish guys so it is not just a five hours a week, it is thinking about that all the time and my main job is a tearoom assistant to make some money so I’m quite busy as well but ... happy. Always ... yeah, we like it.

Monika:

I have ... In my living room you can find an office, an office for Polish school for example. But in my bedroom you can find a store for Halloween ... the decorations! (laughs)

Izabela:

The other members of the Association, they are usually women and they have husbands and husbands have to be very patient and helpful sometimes because they have to stay with children when they are going for meeting. But we ... It is always when you do ... it is a voluntary job so when they have to they are coming with children. When they can’t they are just not coming so we try to be patient for each other because we are five so if somebody can’t they let ... We are more than five actually. One of us is from Turriff, Beata, and she has two children and sometimes she is coming here from Turriff very late, two children ... It’s quite fun actually! No, it’s OK.

Simon:

You mentioned it’s mostly women. Is it women who take the initiative in starting these things?

     

Monika:

Yep!

     

Izabela:

I think it is because that women, they speak more English. I don’t want to be ... but that actually is true, I don’t know. More women attend English classes, I’m not sure. Guys they do not like to learn, they prefer to work.

Monika:

In my case, my husband ... so he works early and actually he have no ... he have no time, he is tired. I’m not so I can do something!

     

Izabela:

They are keen. When we do a festivity and cook some food ... Not me and my sister but others ... ! (laughs) We don’t cook! But other members yes. So husbands are coming to festivity to buy some food and they can just give a lift, something like that. They are ... that’s OK, but they don’t want to take a part in the meetings and talking. They think they have good fun, they can do this ... but they don’t want to be involved really.

Simon:

You’ve mentioned a lot about kids. Does it link in or parallel with people helping each other out with childcare and things? Do you make use of the council childcare, for example? If you’re in families where both of you work, does that become an issue, managing children? Or do you just manage to ...?

Izabela:

Own initiation?

     

Simon:

Own initiative?

     

Monika:

Initiative, yep. I’m not sure what you mean actually when you say ... when we are working or when we are doing something we are asking ...?

     

Izabela:

For example, when we are doing Polish class and Monika she has no child minder. She is coming for the Polish class with Arthur.

Monika:

I have two years old child so ...

     

Izabela:

Today, this morning, Monika she couldn’t come because ... yeah, Polish girls they help each other: “Oh, could you stay with my baby and I will stay with yours next week?” or something like that. But no help from council. There is a crèche every Friday.

Monika:

Yeah, during the Meeting Place on the Friday. Yes, there is a crèche. But it’s evening so ...

Simon:

And just one day!

     

Monika:

One day, yeah.

     

Simon:

Other people I’ve met ... some people their parents or grandparents have come over as well, because they’ve been living here longer, and they have help with childcare. Has that happened in Banff at all? Are most of you just yourselves in your immediate family ...?

     

Izabela:

We are not organised. We are not organised about child minding. We could think about this actually.

Monika:

Yes, we could ... we should think about ...

     

Izabela:

To do officially is too much paperwork, to be a child minder. It’s too many ...

Monika:

Regulations.

Izabela:

Yep. But some of us, some of the women, they could be a child minder, professional child minders, because they care for children. They stay home and they are asking if children need minding from time to time.

Monika:

But I’m afraid you have to have lots of qualifications.

Izabela:

Yeah, degree levels, they are not adequate or Polish education, so nobody interested.

Małgorzata:

There is one Polish girl in Turriff, she is a child minder.

Monika:

She will be a child minder because now she is doing a course.

Małgorzata:

Yep. For a long time.

     

Monika:

Mmm hmm, but she has learned.

     

Simon:

With the Polish school, is the intention to enable kids to keep their Polish active?

     

Monika:

Yep.

     

Simon:

Or is there other aspects to it?

     

Monika:

The intention is, yes, to keep the Polish active to ... We are just trying to teach Polish children Polish language in writing and speaking, Polish history and geography ... That’s it. You know, it’s not a formal school. Our school is not formal school. We will try to be a formal school but it’s a long way so just now we would like to keep them together because when they are in the English school sometimes they know each other, sometimes not so here they are together and then can ... I don’t know how to say! (laughs)

Izabela:

Integrate.

     

Monika:

Yeah, they can integrate between them.

     

Izabela:

In my opinion, for children it is good because they could know their national roots because some ten or eight ...

Monika:

Sometimes they are living here from four years, three years and they were never in the Polish school in Poland so they will speak English, and they speak Polish of course because at home they hear Polish, but they can’t, for example, write something in Polish so it’s ...

Izabela:

On the other hand, there is a second aspect, like adults, because Polish school ... thanks to the Polish school, we could involve some adults in doing something, in taking some action, you know? We need committee members, we need teachers, we need somebody to organise the class to get children in and out to the class... So we need to involve some adults. I think it is good to ... you know, when ...

Monika:

They have to be involved because I can’t be here every Monday, Tuesday, you know? So we need more people. We need more people to help so it’s a good way to integrate with Polish people because sometimes they don’t know each other.

Simon:

Are people mostly ...? You mentioned you’ve got one person from Turriff who’s taking part in the group. Are people mostly living in Banff or are people spread out?

     

Monika:

Banff, Macduff ...

Izabela:

Aberdeenshire ... When we speak about Association and Polish school, there are people from Aberdeenshire, Keith, Banff, Turriff, Abershader ...

Małgorzata:

Abershader!

     

Izabela:

(laughs) Abershader! People from Abershader, Macduff, Banff, Keith ...

     

Monika:

So it’s not so ...

     

Simon:

That’s quite an area. And do people ...? How do people find out about it? Do people just turn up having heard about it or ...

     

Izabela:

Mmm hmm, in the Meeting Place. Or from the church, church is a good ...

Monika:

It’s a good way to let people know we are existing!

     

Simon:

OK we’ll get on to ... We’ve been talking half an hour, sorry.

     

Izabela:

No ... Monika said that we have a Polish network website as well. We are good community.

Monika:

It’s a special website.

Izabela:

Something like Bebo.

Simon:

I’ve seen one that’s run by a guy in Aberdeen. What’s it called? I think it’s called Polski Szkocja24 or something like that. I couldn’t quite remember the name of it.

     

Izabela:

Polski Szkocja? There is a Polish website for all Scotland, there was Nasz Szkocja but it changed for Emito and now is a basic greet- ...

Simon:

Well this is something a guy in Aberdeen started up.

     

Izabela:

Twoje Szkocja?

     

Simon:

I can’t ...

     

Izabela:

That’s OK!

     

Simon:

I can check ...

     
 

Most of the kids at the Halloween party were mostly kind of primary school age. I don’t think I’ve actually met any teenage Poles.

     

Izabela:

There were teenagers and they were waiting for the show but the magician he just ...

     

Monika:

... started with the second part of show because the children from primary school they ...

     

Izabela:

So we had no time to do ... but he was ready to do a show for older ones. The older ones not so many, maybe seven or eight teenagers. There is much less teenagers than primary school. In the older class there is twelve students ... Twelve pupils because in Polish school we have two classes, younger and older one, from five to ten and then from eleven to sixteen. In the older class there is like twelve ...

Monika:

Eleven.

     

Izabela:

Eleven children and there is about eight children in the academy, in Banff Academy school, maybe two teenagers in Turriff so there is not many teenagers actually in the ...

Monika:

Yeah, there is more family with the small children.

     

Izabela:

A lot of children in primary.

Simon:

Is it mostly cos it’s younger families that are coming? I suppose once people have teenage kids they’d be less willing to ...

     

Izabela:

Older kids they stay in Poland. There is some families here with older kids in Poland because they don’t want to come here. They don’t want to learn English or lose friends from Poland. They could decide so they ... There’s a lot of families like that.

Simon:

I guess it’s harder for a teenager to move over.

     

Izabela:

Especially for girls, I don’t know why but many older kids find it more difficult to integrate here. I don’t know why but ...

Monika:

It’s a heartache maybe.

     

Simon:

I think social contact is much more important at that age.

     

Izabela:

Local teenagers, they don’t accept Polish teenagers. More of a situation with racism with older children. In primary school the children they don’t care actually. Polish, Lithuanian or Scottish, they just stick together. But in Banff quite often you meet with racism and older, especially older, children so ... older kids ...

Monika:

Teenagers are more sensitive to any invectives ...

     

Simon:

Has there been serious problems or is it just verbal problems or worse?

     

Izabela:

It’s a serious problem.

     

Monika:

In Banff, yes.

     

Izabela:

The Polish kids in primary school, they have many friends between the local kids, it’s not a problem. But the older ones, they all just keep together and they have no friends actually. Maybe a few, it’s like one kid with one Scottish friend, no more because ... but on the other hand they don’t want to have Scottish friends. They want to be around just the Polish. They want to stay with the group. They ... I don’t know, they don’t want to learn English maybe because for younger it is much easier coming here. I don’t know, non-verbal or verbal ... For older ones it’s more difficult.

Monika:

I’m not sure because my boys they are here over two years so they are speaking English quite good and they don’t have ... When they were in the primary school they had friends, Scottish friends, but now it ... I don’t see Scottish children in my home so there is something, I don’t know what.

Izabela:

Because they keep with Polish?

     

Monika:

Maybe.

     

Izabela:

Much more ... girls, they are not accepted by Scottish girls. The local young, they are bullying Polish because they are less but, to be fair, the Polish kids do nothing to change that so ... it’s not easy.

Simon:

Sometimes it happens if you ... A group like that, you’d be less willing to go to the teachers as well because it would ... A lot of teenagers feel that if they go to the teachers and complain about other kids there’ll be worse trouble.

     

Izabela:

It happens because there are some Polish kids and they go to the teacher to complain and it’s worse because ... Of course not every Scottish children bully the Polish. It is some of them but they are quite clever and they will never do this in the presence of adult people and, on the other hand, to punish somebody you have to have some proof or something like that. You have to make ... you have to be sure to punish: “Oh, you are racist.” ... That is quite a serious thing. You can’t just say to somebody: “Oh you are a racist, you can be punished!” On the other hand, people ... The children who bully Polish, they are too clever to do this in the presence of other adult people. On the ther hand ... it’s not so often. There are a few persons in school. In Poland, the Polish kids they bully other nationalities as well. Racism is in every school in every country and ... but Polish kids they are too sensitive and they think: “Oh, I’ve met one person who bully me so all Scottish guys are bad,” and they don’t want to change. They don’t think: “What I could do to change that?”

Simon:

Do the schools do anything to encourage understanding between people?

     

Izabela:

I don’t know, they ... You should ask Banff schools or somebody who ... I’m not sure if I would not be employed as a youth worker to help in that but I don’t know. Probably they would try to do something. Twelve Polish kids and some Lithuanians, that’s quite good numbers.

Simon:

Have the schools approached your group, to ask your group if ...? Or just encouraging understanding because that’s what your group ...

     

Izabela:

Yeah, in the community centre because they help me to work with Polish kids. They make it easier if they can so I don’t know about school but in community centre I have always some spare hours to work with Polish kids, to go somewhere a day away and spend some time with them so ...

Monika:

But if the school would be wanting to speak with us about participating we would be really ... kind to do, right. Yes, you’re right. But the school ... I suppose the school don’t know about the Association so they can’t ask us! (laughs) Maybe we will be having to find some ideas to integrate Polish and Scottish children ... in Banff Academy. Especially in Banff Academy!

Izabela:

The problem is that Scottish children don’t want to integrate with Polish and kids ... (inaudible) ... But maybe we should leave it and just let natural ...

Simon:

That’s true, you can’t force it on them.

     

Izabela:

I hope ... someday it will happen, I just ... I don’t know, don’t push them and don’t press them and maybe someday they will start to have friends. They will improve their English and then will be fine.

Simon:

OK, I’d like to ask you a bit about your own experiences as well ...

     

Monika:

Experiences? What kind of experiences?

     

Simon:

Just what I’m kind of interested in is how you came to be in Banff, for example? Whether you actively chose to come to this part of the country or whether it was just where the work ...? Did you look for the work yourselves directly or did you go through the job agencies?

     

Izabela:

How we get the job?

     

Simon:

Yeah, how you found your first jobs.

     

Izabela:

Maybe Małgorzata can say something ... she is not actually a member of the Association ... but she speaks English and she is too busy for the Association.

     

Małgorzata:

I came to Banff because my boyfriend’s step-father got a Scottish friend here. Before coming here we were in Corsica for work for half a year but left one month later because people is really not nice, don’t want to pay wages and everything so we went back to Poland. And then ... this friend of my boyfriend’s step-father called and he says: “It’s OK. When are you coming here?” So we came here and start living with this friend. First job we got was at the chicken factory (Grampian Chickens). We worked for one and a half months and then we’ve got some racist people there, like three people start speaking about us. All the time doing something wrong to us, say all the time for somebody something and we’ve got like arguments. So there’s people going to manager and then we speak with manager and it’s, everything is like, you know: “So are we bad? These people are bad.” So I don’t want to still be working there, and I quit this job and we found another job ... I work in an office as a sales assistant ... and my boyfriend help repair all machine ... fruit machinery. And I work there a half year and then I start being pregnant so when I start being pregnant and I say to this other company that I am pregnant, like a month later this guy said: “I’m sorry, I don’t have a job for you.” And then when I leave I know I need thirty weeks before I stop work to get maternity ... and he said he don’t got more job for me because I got one week, so I work twenty-nine and one week before he just said: “I’m sorry, I don’t have a job for you.” And yeah, so I leave there, working there, and start to work in health centre. My neighbour is manager in health centre in Banff so then I start working in health centre in Banff and doing work and then three weeks before I give birth to Victoria and now I am not working because I am nearly one year ... seven months later I have got ... I’m not working and one time I’ve got three jobs, like in health centre, Banff Springs Hotel, and Somerfields so it’s three jobs I have to do and I am starting to stay in health centre and when I’m start ... doing half year and back to Banff Springs for a few months because it’s not too much space for me in health centre because somebody back as well. So now I am working in Banff Springs like a bar worker ... That’s my short history of what I do here.

Izabela:

Since I came here I am from the beginning I have experience with community centre workers from the beginning of my being here, so I had no experience with racism. I never met people like ... Maybe few times but not very serious so I’m actually glad with that, but like I said usually I meet people from ... Usually I met social workers or people who just are not racist but I know I have many friends and they have a lot of experience with racism. Right, so when I came here I was lucky to work for somebody who really helped me to find another job and another job and she’s my good friend actually right now. And then I worked in fish factory where I was like only few months because at the same time I was doing an English course in Aberdeen. So part-time job in fish factory and part-time student and then I had a one year break. And then came back and ... (inaudible) ... in the kitchen and tearoom assistant and many, many jobs. I’ve met many people and I’ve never had many not nice situations. I always met people on a good level but I know plenty people who had a bad experience and they ... Many Scottish people who are my friends, they say there’s many Scottish who say that we Polish are coming to take away their jobs and stuff like that. That’s a very common, we are coming to take all their jobs, but nobody ever told that to me. Maybe even it is a shame because I would like to have a discussion about that but no!

Monika:

I never met nobody who will be ... I never met any racism, no. I am happy maybe!

     

Małgorzata:

Lucky!

     

Monika:

Lucky! (laughs) I am here over two years and I’m just ... I just meet people which are kind to speak with Polish people and they are glad that we are here, so I’m really ... It’s not my problem so ...

     

Izabela:

People who work in factories, they meet sometimes ...

Monika:

Yeah, maybe because ...

     

Simon:

So the kind of work you do seems to ...

     

Izabela:

Yes it is.

     

 

Probably. It’s a ... you know, it depend what kind of people you meet.

     

Izabela:

Besides, there are people who don’t speak English, so then Scottish they use that. They can say: “Oh, you are stupid Polish,” because he knows the Polish won’t be arguing because he has no chance in English to discuss ...

Małgorzata:

I had a situation where somebody tried to argue with me speaking very fast and just leave me. So I was in the situation where I just couldn’t argue because I don’t speak English so fast but it was a very ... that kind of situation was not very ... because I just don’t ... That was at work and I just went to my manager and could explain the situation. As far as I can speak English, I can explain that it’s OK. But people who don’t speak English at work and local people, they treat them as somebody more stupid or to do worse job. In factories the local people sometimes use Polish to do worst jobs. But that, actually ... I’ve met something like that, but I didn’t let nobody treat me like that. Maybe a few days and then say: “Oh no, that’s enough because I know my rights and I don’t have to ...” But sometimes people they have no choice. When somebody has a family and he wants to ... he has children and wife so he can’t just say: “Oh no, I’m quitting because you treat me bad,” so ... and if he doesn’t speak English, for example, he can’t find another job so he needs to keep that one so it happens but not with me.

Simon:

Something I’ve heard from somebody else, that some companies don’t actually want the employees to speak English and they don’t like it if they do ...

     

Izabela:

Maybe because when you speak English you can go and ask for a paid holiday, right? But you won’t ask for paid holidays if you ... (inaudible) ... If I speak English I will go and ask: “Can I get my paid holiday?” and then my Polish friends say: “How did she get a paid holiday and I didn’t?” Because I asked for that so maybe ... But sometimes they are ... In this area I’ve noticed that some companies they like to employ some few people with English to communicate with other Polish people. I think that is using people.

Monika:

The situation like that is Turriff in the meat factory. They have one Polish girl, she speak English and she is as a translator for many many other people.

Izabela:

I think it is using people because they should maybe employ some interpreters because, you know, somebody is learning English, getting new skills and he is on the same level like other workers. He has the same wages and the same days and the same position and he needs ... he has to do more, you know? He has to translate. It’s not always fair.

Monika:

And in the meanwhile doing the job.

     

Izabela:

Yes, and doing the job. So they save money actually, the companies, they save money employing that kind of people, right?

Monika:

Yeah because they don’t need to employ a translator.

     

Małgorzata:

Like me in health centre. I am translator because I am always put me with patients, like Polish patients, and, you know, I translate every time everything so ... It’s like that.

Simon:

I’ve heard that healthcare’s been quite a difficult area for quite a lot of people because of language issues and that many people feel that health centers don’t make an effort to provide for that.

     

Izabela:

Don’t make an effort? Could you explain?

     

Simon:

Well they ... In your case they rely on you, the fact that you just happen to speak Polish and English. They don’t have ... They’ve not actually made ... in a way, really they should be employing someone to come in as a translator or someone to train the staff as a whole how to deal with this. You can’t teach Polish to all the staff but you can teach them how to forward people to that information and stuff like that and they don’t seem to be doing it and so health care seems to be ... When people’s English is not so good it’s part of the problem that they’re not getting the health care that they need. Have you encountered that at all?

     

Izabela:

We run a Polish class, we have quite a few people from the health centre. They want to learn Polish just to know how to read the Polish names, for example!

     

Małgorzata:

Polish people here they have a system! (laughs) They are always going to the doctor with somebody, you know? When Polish children have appointment, for example ... The Polish children always have a mother with somebody who speaks English! (laughs) So it’s ... Yeah, it’s normal!

     

Izabela:

We can’t expect doctors and nurses to speak Polish.

     

Simon:

No but there is a language translation service available to the councils that they can make use of.

     

Izabela:

Yes, by phone. Yeah, my friend she met somebody in Dundee but not here. Here ... There is an interpreter in Turriff. Sometimes they ask her ... The pregnant women, sometimes when they have an appointment with doctor, sometimes they ask an interpreter to come from Turriff but usually the pregnant women they prefer just to take some friends so the GP, the doctors, they’re used to ... The people they’re coming with are friends and they don’t ask interpreters because they don’t have to so ... it’s easier to get friends, not a problem.

Simon:

I was wondering ... One thing you mentioned about, for example, asking for paid holidays and knowing about the time limits for being eligible for maternity and the fact that if people don’t have English they don’t know about that. Given that there is an increasing amount of people who do have English from the Polish community and there’s people who are working here longer who’ve picked up this knowledge, is that knowledge starting to spread amongst other people? If someone was coming from Poland this year to work in Banff do you think they would be able to find out information passed on by people informally?

     

Izabela:

There’s one girl in Banff, Violetta, and she’s like ... actually Monika as well ... and she has children at school age so they like to register all kids. So, for example, when somebody new is coming to Banff or Macduff with children the rest of Polish they say: “Oh you have to go to Violetta and Monika to register your kids to school.” “Who is that?” “Oh, we’ll show you. That’s the two woman who can register your children.” So there is some kind of people doing this.

Monika:

Well in Polish ... When somebody are coming from Poland here he is not coming just like that. He is coming with somebody, you know? He knows at least one person ...

Izabela:

So these people, they ... I think knew that and Monika for example ... She register kids every two months or something like that! She just knows how to ... Monika and Violetta, they do all the forms for tax credit claim or for inland child benefit so they could do this with closed eyes because they have done it so many times. I can’t ... When people are coming ...

Monika:

I am filling the application form for child benefit with closed eyes! (laughs)

Izabela:

... so when people come to me and ask: “Oh, could you just fill for me the forms?” I always ask them to go to my sister or Violetta because to do this I have no case, so I don’t have ... And now it’s: “Could you go to my sister or Violetta because they know how to do this?” I would have to read that and think what I should do but they know. Go to my sister and they will do this. Beata from Turriff, people are coming to her to go to hospital or to see doctor because she knows she has a good vocabulary from the medicine. I think she would like to work as an interpreter in the hospital, something like that. So that’s informal, very informal information and they could come to the Meeting Place and ...

Monika:

So we try to do more formal information because we have few articles in the local newspapers, the Banffshire Journal, but I am not sure how many Polish people read the English papers so ...

Simon:

There was a Polish newspaper coming out of Inverness ....

     

Monika:

Yes, but just in Polish shops, right? I have no car so I am buying just in Banff.

Simon:

One thing I was interested in, a lot of people come here with qualifications and job experience but are going into jobs that are much lower in experience than ... Is that the situation for yourselves?

     

Monika:

I have first degree in Poland. I finished ... It’s something like college here so ... but because it ... it’s something like your Bachelors of ... BA level, OK? So I have the BA level but because in Poland I learned just German and Russian so when I come here the very first time my English was completely at zero so I can’t say just: “Hello!” (laughs) Very slowly! Now it’s different but I have still a problem to find a job suitable for me, for my qualification, for my interest. I worked a few months as a ... what you call this job? Keeper? Kitchen porter! But I decide: “Oh no, it’s not for me!” (laughs) I didn’t want working like that anymore so ... now I am waiting for better occasion. I am working ... I have part-time job. I am working just on Saturdays in the chemist. It’s quite good! It’s still not for my qualification but it’s still good because I am speaking with people. I am meeting people and I like to speak with people, so that is the reason why I want to do this job. But yes, it’s ... there are lots of people with high qualifications and they’re working on the lowest level.

Izabela:

Mmm, in factory.

Monika:

And the main thing is because of English, I think. Sometimes, sometimes ... When we are speaking about all the teachers, sometimes ... you know, if you are the teacher in Poland and you want to work as a teacher here you have to make ... You have to make some ... You have official papers from Poland but they are not adequate to the official papers here so they have to make some extra ...

Simon:

Like an additional qualification?

     

Monika:

Yeah.

     

Izabela:

Some extra courses.

     

Monika:

Some extra courses or something like that and it’s really long way because our friend she tried to do something like that and she said: “Oh my god! No.”

Izabela:

But the point is that in Poland there are a lot of people with higher education, too much. I don’t know if not more than ... There is really plenty people, a huge number of people, who have higher education or finished a high school or college so they are still well educated because a few years ago was so difficult to get a job for young people than go to university. It was easier for me to go to university and get some scholarship and just learn than find a good paid job so ... And when people ... In Poland, education is for free mostly. Education is for free, so if you have to stay home, people quite often they just went to school, so now there is a really large number of high educated ... So they can’t just not ... they can’t ... not everybody can just have a job with their qualifications. That’s actually ... in our city it is a problem because there’s too many students of some kind of profession and there is too few places of work, so it is sure every year there is more people qualified in the profession than the places of work. That’s normal every year. Like I graduated in journalism last year. In my city there is like one hundred places of work for people who finish in journalism and there are two universities so it is like five hundred students every year so how they could find a job as journalist is ... it’s like two newspapers, two radio stations, and one TV station in the city, that’s it! And five hundred students graduating journalism ... It’s many situations like that.

Monika:

But I think people of high education they are more, they are more the kind to change the profession because they are more the kind to learn something new. For example, we are now Polish tutors ... I never was a tutor in Poland ... really. I think that to be a teacher it’s a very, very hard job and ... now I know it is a hard job but I like it. Really.

Izabela:

Could we continue later because ...?

     

Simon:

Yeah.

     

Izabela:

By the way, we have to go home ...

     

Monika:

Prepare some dinner!

     

Izabela:

Prepare supper and be back here half-past five!

Monika:

Quarter-past five here will be a Polish school. They start at quarter-past five, and the first lesson, it will be a Polish lesson with a really good teacher. She’s not like me and Izabela. Her name is Silvia and she is really teacher from Poland, but of course here she is not working as a teacher.

Izabela:

Careworker.

Monika:

She is a careworker.

Izabela:

And there will be a priest as well. Actually, he is not a priest. Father Jakob, he speaks English as well, so probably he will be keen to talk to you as well.