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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ilford-park-polish-home/ilford-park-polish-home
Ilford Park Polish Home provides residential and nursing care to former members of the Polish Forces under British command in World War 2, and their spouses. It is subject to unscheduled routine inspection and regularly meets all the standards of the Care Quality Commission.
1. The war years and Winston Churchill’s promise
After World War 2 the majority of Polish troops who had fought under British Command were unable to return to a Poland now under Soviet influence and control. Many feared being taken as political prisoners.
Due to their immense contribution to the war efforts, the Poles were seen in Whitehall and the wider community as deserving of special support and assistance. Churchill singled the Poles out as ‘special’ when in a House of Commons speech he declared that:
Her Majesty’s government will never forget the debt they owe to the Polish troops who have served them so valiantly and for all those who have fought under our command…
(As cited in Tony Kushner and Katherine Knox. Refugees in an Age of Genocide. 1999)
2. Resettlement camps
The Polish Resettlement Act was passed in 1947. It was known affectionately as the Winston Churchill promise and made the then Assistance Board responsible for meeting the needs of qualifying Poles and their dependants. A total of 45 resettlement camps were set up across Great Britain, including Ilford Park.
Today Ilford Park is now the last remaining home run by the Ministry of Defence (MOD), who took on this responsibility from the Assistance Board, under the 1947 act. The home first opened in 1948 at Stover Camp, the site of a hospital built for expected D-Day casualties amongst American troops. Its original purpose was to resettle members of the Polish forces into a new life in the UK but over the years it evolved into a residential care and nursing home for elderly Polish veterans.
The home has retained a strong sense of community and commitment to Polish values and traditions and is affectionately known by its residents, the local community in Devon and Polish organisations as “Little Poland”. Today, its residents are those who were unable to make the transition from a resettlement camp into the outside community and those who were initially able to integrate, but in later years found themselves unable to cope.
Due to the disrepair of the original home, in 1987 ministers committed to build a new home on the original site using 9 acres of the 41 acre site.
3. Ilford Park today
In November 1991, Lord Henley laid the foundation stone for the new home and on 16 December 1992 he opened the home at a ceremony attended by the Polish Consul General, representatives of Polish organisations and the then Department of Social Security Permanent Secretary. The new premises provide a home for 98 residents in the 81 bed residential care wing, the 14 bed nursing home and 3 independent bungalows. Ilford Park has a national catchment area, primarily from where the original camps used to be.
At Ilford Park we believe that residents have the right to spend their retirement in an environment that takes account of their religion and culture. We maintain a minimum of 30% bilingual staff to ensure that the residents have access to their own language. Mental frailty often means that residents revert to their native Polish.
The Home is inspected by the Care Quality Commission and complies with all standards laid down by the Health and Social Care Act 2008.
We work in partnership with Polish organisations, including the Polish Catholic Mission, The Polish Embassy and Consulate, as well as Polish entertainment groups.
4. Facilities at Ilford Park
Ilford Home offers many facilities including a Polish delicatessen and a Chapel built within the home. Mass is offered daily by a live-in Polish priest from the Polish Catholic Mission.
At Ilford Park we understand the need for all persons to be treated equally, wherever they may live within the community.
Our excellent on-site facilities include:
- a residential, nursing or sheltered environment
- accommodation that is fully furnished to a high standard
- kitchen areas for the preparation of snacks and hot drinks
- passenger lift
- landscaped gardens
- fully equipped hairdressing salon
- recreational activities to reflect residents’ interests
- an active Residents Committee and regular residents’ meetings to ensure full participation in decision making throughout the community
- a quarterly newsletter, produced within Ilford Park, with information on a variety of topics
- Polish and English newspapers
- Polish satellite TV, incorporating a full video service
- daily choice of menus of Polish and English cuisine that fully cater for special dietary requirements
- Polish and English speaking staff with facilities for translation as necessary
- twin bedded guest rooms
5. Further Information
A further information package and application forms are available from:
The Manager, Clare Thomas
Ilford Park Polish Home
Devon TQ12 6QH
Tel 01626 353961
Download the application form