Poland has been a member of the European Union since 1 May 2004. A brief overview of the country’s political system, trade and economy and Poland as an EU member state can be viewed on the official website of the European Union.
Following the country's accession to the European Union and the opening of the labour market, there has been a very significant wave of Polish migration to the United Kingdom. Between 2015 and 2018 Poland was the most common non-UK country of birth after taking over from India. Since then, Poland has been the second most common non-UK country of birth but despite this decrease, Polish has remained the most common non-UK nationality in the UK since 2007 with the estimated number in June 2020 of 815.000 (Population of the UK by country of birth and nationality: year ending June 2020, Office for National Statistics). Between 2004 and 2014 the number of Polish nationals in the UK increased from around 69.000 to around 853.000 (House of Commons Library Briefing Paper: Polish Population of the United Kingdom, 15 July 2016). As of June 2020 an estimated number of 127.000 Polish nationals lived in London (Office for National Statistics, Population of the UK by country of birth and nationality: individual country data, July 2019 to June 2020), down from the peak of 187.000 in 2016 (Office for National Statistics, Population of the UK by country of birth and nationality: individual country data, January to December 2016). In the year directly preceding Poland's accession to the EU, the estimated number of Poles living in London was 38.000 (Office for National Statistics, Population of the UK by country of birth and nationality: individual country data, March 2003 to February 2004. Close to 70% of the Polish population in the UK are between the ages of 25 and 49 (Commons Library Briefing, 15 July 2016). The Polish population in the UK is, therefore, relatively young reflecting the predominantly economic character of the post-2004 Polish immigration wave to the UK.
Although the vast majority of the current Polish population in the UK has arrived in the country after the 2004 EU enlargement, a significant Polish community existed in the UK before that. In the 19th century a small number of Polish people, mostly the country's social elite and political exiles, emigrated to the United Kingdom following the partition of Poland between Russia, Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian empire and a number of failed Polish uprisings against the partitioning powers. The most famous Pole to arrive in Great Britain during this period was Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, better known as Joseph Conrad. A large number of Poles migrating to Great Britain in the 19th century were of Jewish background. In the 20th century, the most significant influx to Britain from Poland took place with the outbreak of the Second World War. Most of the Poles that arrived in Britain during that period were military and political emigres including the Polish Government in Exile that relocated to London after the fall of France. When a communist, Soviet-controlled government was installed in Poland, most of the WW2 emigres and exiles decided to stay in Britain and many joined them between the years 1946 and 1949. As Keith Sword points out in his book Identity in Flux: the Polish community in Britain, this influx of Poles was well organised, had its own political and military leadership and a significant cultural and literary elite. It was mostly a military settlement and thus largely male and they were largely exiles and 'unwilling settlers' as opposed to the post EU accession wave.
UK migration statistics and datasets
- Office for National Statistics: Population of the UK by country of birth and nationality: individual country data
- Office for National Statistics: Poland is the most common non-UK country of birth and Polish is the most common non-British nationality
- UK Prison Population Statistics: House of Commons Library Briefing paper
- Eastern European migrant pupils in English schools / Dr Antonina Tereshchenko - a research project funded by the British Academy through the Newton International Fellowship, hosted by the Department of Education & Professional Studies at King’s College London; project report including statistical information and analysis
- Uk Department of Work and Pensions: National Insurance numbers allocated to adult overseas nationals to March 2019 - Previous years are available under: Previous releases: National Insurance number allocations
- Office for National Statistics: Parents' Country of Birth - Annual data on live births in England and Wales by parents' country of birth. Tables 1, 2, 2a, 3, 4 and 5 in the dataset for 2017 as well as some tables for earlier years include individual statistics for Poland. "Poland and Pakistan remain [in 2017] the most common countries of birth for foreign-born mothers and fathers respectively"
- Polish population in the United Kingdom: House of Commons briefing paper, July 2016 / Oliver Hawkins, Anna Moses - full report available to download.
- Migration Watch UK: Population by Country of Birth
Polish migration statistics
- Polacy w Wielkiej Brytani i ich adaptacja / Konrad Pędziwiatr, Jan Brzozowski. Biuro Analiz Sejmowych, 2018.
- Academic research, publications and projects
Doctoral theses: UCL
- Goodwin K.M. (2017) Class, Gender and Ethnicity Performance Amongst Polish Women in the United Kingdom and New Zealand/Aotearoa: an Intersectional Perspective.
- Lopez Rodriguez, M. (2016) Capital, Identities and Strategies for Success: explorations of the perspectives of Polish migrant mothers on their children's education in the UK.
- Osipovic, D. (2010) Social citizenship of Polish migrants in London: engagement and non-engagement with the British welfare state.
- Parutis, V. A. (2009) 'At home' in migration: the social practices of constructing 'home' among Polish and Lithuanian migrants in London.
- Young, S. R. J. (2018) The construction of ethno-linguistic identity amongst Polish-born adolescents living in the UK.
Doctoral theses: other universities
- Bak-Klimek, A. (2015) The level and determinants of well-being among Polish economic migrants in Scotland: testing the Sustainable Happiness Model: a sequential explanatory mixed-methods study. Edinburgh Napier University.
- Bielewska-Mensah, A. (2009) Changing identities of Polishness: the everyday spaces and practices of post-war and post-accession Polish migrants in Manchester. Manchester Metropolitan University.
- Callender M. (2012) The lives of young Polish migrants residing in Northamptonshire. University of Northampton.
- Curie, S. J. (2006) Free movement and European Union enlargement: a socio-legal analysis of the citizenship status and experiences of Polish migrant workers in the UK. University of Liverpool.
- Harris, C. (2012) Entrepreneurship amongst Polish migrants in the West Midlands, United Kingdom. University of Birmingham.
- Ignatowicz, A. (2012) Migration and mobility of new Polish migrants in England: narratives of lived experience. Aston University.
- Knight, J. (2013) Motivation and trajectories: a study of Polish migrants in Cardiff. Cardiff University.
- Kozminska, K. (2016) Language and identity in a transnational context: a sociophonetic study of the Polish of a group of migrants living in the UK. University of Oxford.
- Krawczyk, E. (2017) Post-accession Polish migrants' in London: transnational identities and changing settlement strategies. University of Surrey.
- McKeon, J. (2014) Migrating Later in Life: Older Polish Migrants in the UK. De Montfort University.
- Rzepnikowska-Phillips, A. (2016) Convivial cultures in multicultural societies: narratives of Polish migrants in Britain and Spain. University of Manchester.
- Selkirk, M. (2011) Influences on Polish migrants' responses to distress and decisions about whether or not to seek psychological help. University of Edinburgh.
- Bielewska, A. (2012) Changing Polish identities: post-war and post-accession Polish migrants in Manchester. Oxford; New York: Peter Lang. SSEES Collection P.IV BIE
- Burrell. K. (ed.) (2009) Polish Migration to the UK in the ‘New’ European Union After 2004. Aldershot: Ashgate. SSEES Collection P.IV POL
- Duda-Mikulin, E. A. (2019) EU migrant workers, Brexit and precarity: Polish women's perspectives from inside the UK. Bristol, UK: Bristol University Press. SSEES Collection P.XIX DUD
- Fleming, M. (ed.) (2018) Brexit and Polonia: Challenges facing the Polish Community during the process of Britain leaving the European Union. London: PUNO Press.
- Galka, J. (2016) Polacy w przestrzeni społecznej Londynu u progu XXI wieku. Poznań : Bogucki Wydawnictwo Naukowe. SSEES Collection P. XIX GAL; available also as full-text PDF
- Garapich,M. P. (2016) London's Polish borders: transnationalizing class and ethnicity among Polish migrants in London. Stuttgart: Ibidem-Verlag. SSEES Collection P.XIX GAR
- Kloc-Nowak, W. (2018) Childbearing and parental decisions of intra EU migrants: a biographical analysis of Polish migrants to the UK and Italy. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
- Knight, J., Lever, J. and Thompson, A. (2017) Labour, Mobility and Temporary Migration: A Comparative Study of Polish Migration to Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. SSEES Collection P XIX KNI
- Kubal, A. (2012) Socio-Legal Integration. Polish Post-2004 EU Enlargement Migrants in the United Kingdom. Farnham, Surrey, England; Burlington, VT: Ashgate. SSEES Collection P.IV KUB
- Plewko, J., Szymczak, W. and Adamczyk,T. (2018) Doświadczenie rozwoju w życiu polskich migrantów w Wielkiej Brytanii : praca - rodzina - religijność - partycypacja. Lublin: Towarzystwo Naukowe Katolickiego Uniwersytetu Lubelskiego Jana Pawła II. SSEES Collection P IV PLE
- Rostek, J. and Uffelmann, D. (2011) Contemporary Polish migrant culture and literature in Germany, Ireland, and the UK. Frankfurt, M; Bern: P. Lang.
- Stenning, A. and Slowik, A. (eds.) (2011) Post-Accession Migration in Europe: a Polish Case Study. Krakow: Impuls. SSEES Collection P XIX POS
- White, A. (2011) Polish families and migration since EU accession. Bristol, UK.: Policy Press. SSEES Collection P XIX WHI
For articles in journals and book chapters see UCL SSEES Polish Migration project website.
Academic projects and resources
- Polish Migrations, UCL SSEES - "A resource for anyone interested in contemporary Polish migration", website organized by Prof Anne White
- Class and Ethnicity: Polish Migrant Workers in London - University of Surrey, Centre for Research on the European matrix project
- The Polish Diaspora in the UK and Ireland. Migrations in Literature and Culture since 2004 - University of Lodz project (2011-2015) funded by the Polish national Science Centre (Narodowe Centrum Nauki)
For literature until 2015 see the University of Lodz Project: Polish (e)migration literature in Great Britain and Ireland since 2004.
- Bakalar, A. M. (2017) Children of our age. London: Jantar Publishing. SSEES Collection P..XXIV.7 BAK
- Dale, A. (2017) Fox season: and other short stories. London: Jantar Publishing. SSEES Collection P.XXIV.7 DAL
- Engländer-Botten, A. (2018) Impresje emigrantki. Gdynia: Novae Res. SSEES Collection P.XIX ENG
- Haber, A. (2017) Dzięki Bogu. Poligraf.
- Kowal, M. (2018) Immigrant na Wyspach : jak odnalazłem się w UK. Pelplin: Wydawnictwo Bernardinum. SSEES Collection P.XIX KOW
- Lipman, J. (2016) Polska Dotty 2: Polski Sklep, Polish Plumbers, and Other Tales of Poles in the UK. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
British feature films and TV series
- The character of Magda from BBC Two sitcom series Lead Ballon
- The characters of Wiki Dankowska and Kasia Barowicz in ITV soap opera Coronation Street
- The character of Aldona in BBC mockumentary sitcom People Just Do Nothing. She appeared in series 1 and 2, episodes Competition, The Website, Secret Location, Angel's Birthday and Weed Drought
Polish feature films and TV series
- Londyńczycy [The Londoners] - Polish TV series about Polish immigrants in London; directed by Greg Zglinski and Maciej Migas; first aired on TVP1 in 2008
- Oda do radości [Ode to Joy] - directed by Anna Kazejak-Dawid, Jan Komasa, Maciej Migas. Poland: Gutek Film, 2006, film
- My friend the Polish Girl - "borrows from the cinema verite and video bloggers to create a rare naturalism in style and performance. The fiction film watches as an experimental documentary told through the eyes (and lens) of amateur filmmaker Katie: an amateur rich kid following Alicja, an erratic unemployed Polish actress". Directed by Ewa Banaszkiewicz and Mateusz Dymek. Warsaw Pact Films (UK), 2018, film
Radio and TV documentaries
- Eastern Europeans in Brexitland, BBC Radio 4, episode 2 - "Gary Younge explores what Brexit means for Eastern Europeans living in the UK. In the second episode, Gary meets members of the Polish community in the north east of England", 12/09/2016
- Victoria Derbyshire Programme, BBC 2: The Poles heading for the exit after Brexit - 28/10/2016
- Media outlets and internet portals
Newspapers and magazines
- Cooltura: Polish Weekly Magazine - a leading Polish weekly in the UK published since 2004
- Polish Express - the largest Polish language newspaper outside of Poland; print and online editions; articles in Polish and English
- Lajt Magazine - published since 2016, available in print and online; formerly Panorama Magazine
- Informacje24 Magazine - a monthly
- Dziennik Polski - the only Polish daily in the UK; published since 1940
- Goniec Polski - a free Polish monthly published in London since 2002; print and online editions
- Polskie Echo
- Cooltura24 - Polish news portal based in London
- Londynek.net - free online news and noticeboard service for the UK Polish community
- Anglia.today - free online news and noticeboard service for the UK Polish community
- MojaWyspa.co.uk strefa.co.uk - an advertising portal for Poles in the UK
- Polnews - free online news and noticeboard service for the Polish community in Newcastle, Sunderland, Darlington and Middlesbrough
- Polacy.co.uk - a social media platform aimed at Poles in the UK
- Informacje24 - a free monthly magazine
- emito.net - news and advertising portal for Poles in the UK
- polemi.co.uk - news portal integrated with social media platform aimed at Poles in the UK
- Polsport.co.uk - a sport themed portal for Poles in the UK promoting sport, in particular Polish sport in the UK
- openmagazyn.pl - a news portal for Poles in the UK
- InterNations Poles in the United Kingdom
- InterNations Poles in London
- InterNations Poles in Birmingham
- InterNations Poles in Manchester
Polish organisations in the UK
- Instytut Polski i Muzeum im. gen. Sikorskiego (the Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum) - Polish cultural and historical institution in London housing archives related mainly to the Polish government in exile and the Polish Armed Forces in the West (Polskie Siły Zbrojne na Zachodzie)
- Polska Macierz Szkolna - The Polish Educational Society - an organisation supporting Polish education in Great Britain
- Polski Ośrodek Społeczno-Kulturalny POSK - Polish Social and Cultural Association. Numerous Polish organisations are located in the POSK building, including Polish University Abroad (Polski Uniwersytet na Obczyznie), Pilsudski Institude of London (Instytut Piłsudskiego w Londynie), Polish Central Circulating Library and Federation of Poles in Great Britain (Zjednoczenie Polskie w Wielkiej Brytanii). POSK houses Polish theatre, Polish cafe and restaurant and a jazz club.
- Polish Cultural Institute - "The function of the Polish Cultural Institute is to showcase contemporary Polish culture for Britain's multicultural audience, particularly in London [...] programme covers the visual arts, film, theatre, music and literature"
- Ognisko Polskie (The Polish Hearth) - "one of London’s oldest Polish Clubs which today hosts a variety of theatrical, musical and other cultural events"
- Lewisham Polish Centre - a Polish charity organisation in Lewisham, London supporting local Polish community
- Stowarzyszenie Poland Street
- Polskie Towarzystwo Naukowe na Obczyznie
- Polish City Club - "an organisation of Polish professionals who are committed to building a well connected and successful Polish diaspora in Europe"
- Allshire Eastern European Community Association - Polish organisation in Liverpool supporting Polish community in Norh-West England.
- Liverpool Polish Centre
- Merseyside Polonia - a Polish charity organisation in Northwest of England
- Lincolnshire Polish Society