Mapping and identifying challenges of aged 50+ Polish expats in Greater Manchester

This winter, Europia has taken on the challenge to learn about the challenges and everyday life of Polish residents of Manchester over the age of 50, who arrived in the UK after the year 2004. We are carrying out an online survey and one-to-one interviews and we’ll be organizing three community events for members of our target group in January and February.

Why are we interested in the topic? There are two old Polish sayings that seem to suggest that migration in later stages of life is not a good idea and that ageing, more generally speaking, excludes the possibility of fun: The first saying goes “Starych drzew się nie przesadza” (lit. transl.: Don’t replant old trees), the second “Starość nie radość, młodość nie wieczność“ (lit. transl.: Old age is no joy, youth is not eternal). So, is migration in later age then doomed to make people unhappy and do Polish residents over the age of 50 in Manchester have to settle for a mediocre life and a compromised well-being?

We don’t believe so! In fact, we disagree! Europia thinks that joy is for everyone and migration can be an empowering, enriching experience in later life, too. But there is some effort to be made and things to be learned about one another before we can improve life situations and change attitudes together. Europia as a charity and the city-wide umbrella project “Ambition for Ageing” are there to help – but helping often comes with assumptions about the other. Help can be perceived as “out-of-place” and imposed. Every individual and every cultural community has their own ways of thinking about different life stages and about what makes a “good life”. Our research project is a first step in this learning and discovery process, in which we try to develop sustainable support infrastructures together with the community members and in a conversation with their ideas of a good life.

Through our surveys and personal conversations, we want to find out more about the challenges individuals from Poland over the age of 50 experience in their everyday lives in Greater Manchester.

  • How do they feel in their neighborhoods, homes, and at work?
  • Which relationships are important to them and how are they maintained?

We are looking to learn about their movements between Poland and the UK, and the emotions related to that movement.

  • What experience of re-location from Poland to Manchester have they had, and how has it affected the overall experience of settling in the UK?

And we are interested in how they think about later life – as individuals and as members of a cultural community.

  • What do they feel obliged to, what entitled to as they grow older?

21.10.1988, Wroc³aw, Polska.
Happening Pomarañczowej Alternatywy na ulicy Œwidnickiej – Domek na Œwidnickiej. Uczestnicy z transparentem: spokojna staroœæ na Œwidnickiej.
Fot. Mieczys³aw Michalak, zbiory Oœrodka KARTA

How can you get involved in the project?

We are looking for research participants who are willing to share their experiences – in the survey and/ or in personal conversation. Both elements will take around 25-30 minutes of your time. We think of your participation in the research project as a donation to Europia and, ultimately, to the Polish community. We need your input to create support infrastructures that truly mean something to you, and that you or other community members in similar situations actually need. We don’t want to do things just pro forma. So, donate your experience and 30 minutes of your time to the project and you’ll be part of a larger story of proving that joy, migration, and later life can become very good friends.

 

So in a nutshell:

The survey

The project survey is available online here.

It can also be obtained in print format. It takes 25 minutes to complete. As a thank you for completing the survey, all participants have the chance to enter a prize draw – the prize is to be revealed yet.  

The interviews

One-to-one-interviews can be arranged via email or telephone with Hannah (Hania) or Anna. (Hannah.w@europia.org.uk , 07548997948). We will be taking about your experience for about 20-30 minutes. You can also simply come to St Wilfrid’s Community Enterprise Centre on a Friday, Hannah and Anna will be working in the office and waiting to speak to you. We speak Polish so, no worries about the language.

The community gatherings

The dates for the first two community gatherings are the 14th of January and the 28th of January 2018, so keep an eye open for details about the gatherings. They will be held at St Wilfrid’s Community Entreprise Centre and facilitated by our research assistant Aneta together with Hannah and Anna.

Conditions to participate

Individuals over the age of 50, who arrive to the UK from Poland after 2004 are invited to participate in the survey. Partners, friends, and children of such individuals are also invited to get in touch with us.

More questions? Contact Hannah Wadle, PhD, the Lead Researcher of the project, (Hannah.w@europia.org.uk) or get in touch with Kush Chottera, the Executive Manager of Europia Manchester (kush.c@europia.org.uk).

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