Unemployed young Brits head for Warsaw

02-04-2004

We often hear about East Europeans going in search of jobs to the West. But if you visit one of the sports stadiums in the Polish capital Warsaw, you will find a group of unemployed people from Britain working there.

Sightseeing is certainly not the main goal of the visit for a group of young people from Britain who came here thanks to the Prince's Trust, a charity organization founded by The Prince of Wales. They are based in the Polonia sports center in north Warsaw....

After a soccer match by the Polonia first division team I asked Janet why they decided to come to Warsaw:

"There was a choice between four countries and Poland sounded the best. It's a great country, everyone is very nice and its very good. We're enjoying it very much."

What have you been doing over the past few days?

"We've been basically scraping the walls to make it smooth, and then repainting to basically make it look fresh and make it look OK. And then next week we start painting the football colours on the other side of the stadium."

How many hours a day of solid work?

"Six hours."

But as one young Englishman, Solomon, told me, the programme of the three-week stay in Warsaw is not work alone:

"We came on this project to sample foreign cultures and we hope that as a group that the Polish culture was going to be the most interesting. Me, myself being a really big football fan, this was a great opportunity to be around the stage and see what happens over then just on the pitch. For me it's a really good experience and I've been doing it a lot."

The managers of the Polonia sports center are extremely happy with what the young Britons have so far done. Thanks to them, the usual spring-time repainting, repairs and cleaning have been completed well ahead of schedule. Michal Wanatowicz, who takes care of the group on behalf of the Prince's Trust, told me the project is an effective way of helping young people get new skills and better job prospects at home.

"This is one of the few European Union programmes to help young people to develop those skills - for inter-cultural learning and visiting other countries. They went for, I think, two or three weeks training in England, about Poland. Then they came here. They will have trips to Krakow and Zakopane. We are going to the museums and to the cinemas, doing a lot of sightseeing, meeting other people. So this is the way it is done. It's like eye-opening experience because very often they are stuck to their own environment in England. Some of them have never traveled abroad and right now they see other countries, other cultures and they are open. They want to travel and to travel they have to work, to have the money to travel. So, I think that it helps them like this."

For Janet the eye-opening aspect of the scheme is of great importance.

"I think we were a bit naïve to the culture because Poland's not really in the news at all in England, so we didn't know anything about this country until we came here. And it's amazing - it's a great country, it's fast, it's a big city, everybody is really friendly. The culture is brilliant."

With a certificate from the Prince's Trust in their hands, Janet, Solomon and their friends hope to get a job in Britain and return to Warsaw to do more sightseeing. The Polonia sports centre will surely be on their itinerary.

02-04-2004

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