The Polish ambassador to the UK has called for even closer co-operation between the two countries on a visit to Boston, a town with a significantly higher than average Eastern European population and one which is known for its perceived lack of integration.
Arkady Rzegocki met with councillors, police and the Polish community during a visit to the Lincolnshire town, commonly referred to as the Brexit capital of the UK, on April 5.
Boston recorded the highest majority of Brexit voters in Britain, voting by 75.6% to leave the EU.
Lincolnshire as a county also voted decisively to leave in the referendum held on June 23 last year.
The town was also named as the least integrated place in the UK in findings released by the think tank Policy Exchange in January 2016.
Ambassador Rzegocki said: “I think we have to to make greater efforts to have better knowledge about each other.”
The ambassador also praised the contributions Polish people make to communities such as Boston, stating that the future of EU nationals living in the town needs to be settled within months, not years.
He added: “There’s about one million Poles in the UK – they work in the NHS, in shops, in agriculture, as well as in academia.
“I’m trying to encourage Polish people to come back to Poland. Our GDP is growing year-on-year, our economy is growing and we have low levels of unemployment.”
‘I feel part of this community’
Stanislaw Kowalski is a priest at St Mary’s Church in Boston and came to the town in September 2015.
Contrary to perhaps popular belief, the priest has had positive experiences of Boston and how the Polish and local communities have integrated.
He told Lincolnshire Reporter: “The community is very dynamic, with ambition and a positive mentality.
“From my experiences, there is integration. I work with the local priests and the local community.
“I feel very comfortable here and feel part of this community.”
Despite speaking of the need for integration, the priest said that he was proud of being Polish and wanted to preserve his identity.
He said: “I’ve worked in the US, Canada, here in Great Britain and Ireland for 27 years. I know that integration is a very long process.
“Most Polish people want to stay here. They want to because their children are born here, go to schools here and they have good jobs.
“They are good workers, good people and they pay their taxes.”
Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman, who invited the ambassador to the town, added: “Boston has proportionally more Polish people living in it than anywhere else in the country.
“It’s very important that at the very highest levels we try and explain what the challenges and opportunities are of having that new and different population.”