There's no future without the past
Young people from the Polish community in Huddersfield worked closely with Kirklees Community Heritage to learn interviewing, research, archiving and interpreting skills in order to uncover the various histories of the Polish people living in Kirklees between 1947 and 2012.
Kirklees is home to a well-established Polish community, with the first families arriving after the Second World War having endured incredible hardship and persecution. Their experiences and reasons for migration are rarely talked about, and although the traditions and beliefs they brought with them are still celebrated their roots are shrouded in mystery and the first generation is fast disappearing. In recent years the community has seen the addition of newly arrived Polish migrants, including Roma families, many of whom have been in the UK less than 10 years.
The Huddersfield Pakistani Youth Forum, who have carried out a successful heritage project before, acted as mentors to support the young people. The project has brought together not only different groups within the Polish community but also the wider community, to learn about and share this hidden heritage through research, exhibitions and film media.
Kim Strickson, Community Heritage Manager, explained:
“The young people driving the project and making the film found the process illuminating, educational, moving, inspiring and sometimes very difficult!
“They often had a challenging time persuading the older people in the community that recording and sharing their histories was worthwhile and of interest to others. We managed to get the community to accept that it can share their culture, history and events with the wider community in places other than the parish rooms! The Polish community is now visible since we’ve made the DVD. It shows everyone has a story to tell.”