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North East must help Polish integration, academic warns
Written by Irwin Mitchell   
Thursday, 13 March 2008 12:26
 A leading academic will warn this week that new Polish migrants to the north of England often have little accessible official information and support. Ian Fitzgerald, academic from the School of the Built Environment at Northumbria University, will be speaking at a free evening seminar hosted by law firm Irwin Mitchell at their Grey Street offices in Newcastle on Thursday, February 28th.

He will be joined by top industrial lawyer Roger Maddocks, who will discuss the health and safety issues affecting Polish workers in the north east, particularly the issues surrounding claims for compensation if they are seriously injured while at work.

Mr Fitzgerald will warn that better information and support is needed for Polish workers to integrate properly into the communities and workplaces where they are based.

Speaking ahead of the seminar, he said: “Polish people are arriving in the UK and helping to improve our economy. They often fill jobs that are below their current qualifications and are sometimes hard-to-fill – there is a real potential to harness these latent skills to improve the north east economy.

“The north east is becoming more cosmopolitan with the introduction of other nationalities into our region. However, some of these are arriving into sometimes terrible living, social and working conditions as they are simply not armed with the information they need to do anything about it.

“Polish people are starting to settle here now – they’re not just staying for short periods, but are instead looking to make a long-term contribution to the UK economy, yet we as a nation appear to have given very little thought to how best to make sure they are integrated.

“The Government must step in and take measures to ensure the flow of information and resources is for the right people and at the right times.”

Roger Maddocks, partner and industrial injury specialist at Irwin Mitchell, added that there were huge health and safety issues facing Polish people working for north east employers.

He said: “We have seen and dealt with cases where Polish people have been horribly injured but not known where to turn. They may find themselves without an income, feeling confused and intimidated by the legal system.

“It is imperative that community groups, local authorities, business groups and the professional services pull together to ensure the right advice is being given.”

The seminar takes place at Irwin Mitchell’s offices at Gainsborough House, Grey Street, Newcastle. Email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 0191 279 0113 for more information.