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First “Community Connect” meeting takes place in London

The first meeting bringing together representatives of the Polish community and the British Government took place in London last week.

Community Connect participants
Discussion taking place during "Community Connect" meeting in London

Community Connect – Poles in UK is a series of consultation meetings, bringing together the British government and representatives of the Polish community in the UK to discuss issues that matter to Poles in the UK. The first meeting took place on Thursday, 5 October 2017, at the premises of the Polish Social and Cultural Association in London.

The meeting opened with a message by Minister for Europe and the Americas at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Sir Alan Duncan, who greeted participants with a reassurance of their status in the UK: “We welcome you, we value you, and Poles in the UK are here to stay.”

The Minister’s message was followed by a presentation from Paul Giannasi, National Hate Crime Coordinator. Giannasi outlined the efforts made by the British government and law enforcement agencies to tackle hate crime and hate speech, including the TrueVision website – a police-funded initiative for reporting hate incidents.

The meeting continued with a series of workshops with the participation of representatives of the Department for Exiting the European Union (DexEU), and the Home Office. DexEU representatives reaffirmed the status of EU nationals living in the UK remains unchanged until the UK leaves the EU and made clear the Government’s commitment to protect the rights of EU nationals in the UK thereafter.

The Home Office, as part of a series of consultations, led a workshop to discuss the design of the new registration process, listening to what community representatives had to say about their current needs and concerns. Information received during this part of the meeting will help the Home Office in planning future policy.

Creative Connection rounded up the day with a session dedicated to empowering community leaders. They worked with participants to give them the tools they need to be sources of accurate information for their friends, families and communities and helped to map out community leaders up and down the country to act as an important network of support.

Closing the event, Minister of State for the Department for Exiting the EU, Baroness Anelay, spoke to representatives of the Polish community. In her speech, the Baroness confirmed the main message of the event:

I know that many of you will be concerned about what Brexit means for your future in the UK. I hope that the Prime Minister’s speech in Florence last month offered some reassurance.

In no uncertain terms she stated to all EU citizens who have made their lives in our country – that we want you to stay; we value you; and we thank you for your contribution to our national life…

We recognise the uncertainty that the referendum result has caused. But we want to make sure that everyone here is welcome – and that you’re able to carry on living your lives as before.

I hope that today’s event, as well as the British Embassy’s ongoing work with Polish Diaspora in the UK, goes some way to demonstrate that commitment.

Let me stress — the guarantee we are giving on your rights is real. We have also committed to incorporating our agreement fully into UK law and make sure the UK courts can refer directly to it.

We are determined to get on with the job and deliver certainty to people as soon as possible. Both parties in negotiations want to achieve the best possible outcome and the strongest possible partnership – one that works for the UK and for the EU.

Published 10 October 2017