Thanks to the owner of a beauty salon, Unite Community has a new community advice centre. Natalia Garstka, owner of Prestige in Doncaster, was constantly being asked by her Polish clients about where they could get advice. So when she met translator Tom Scott-Chambers, who for the last six years has admirably befriended and assisted many migrant workers from Poland, she proposed that he move in and work with Unite to provide advice and information on a formal basis.
In early June the advice sessions started and Tom is now looking for volunteers to be trained to help him.
Tom’s extensive involvement with the Polish community in South Yorkshire was sparked by him witnessing the deplorable living conditions that migrant workers were being forced to endure with up to sixteen people living in a small house with few facilities.
When he began searching for some premises, from which to start making improvements by providing free benefits help and welfare rights advice, he wrote off to Unite. “I was delighted when they wrote back saying they were fully behind me,” says Tom. The outcome was the new community centre on Nether Hall Road, location for many Polish and European shops in Doncaster.
In just a few short weeks the response has been very exciting. Many people have been helped and forty Polish people have joined the Unite Community Branch that has been formed in Doncaster. “Once they see we are on their side, people want to give something back and get involved,” said Tom.
Tom has also been unionising workers from Poland who are working at places such as Monaghan Mushrooms near Pontefract and ABP Food Group in Armthorpe. “People are coming in and saying I am working and I need to be in a union. I say complete the application form, get others to do so and get organised. We need all workers to be in a union as otherwise we will allow employers to pay migrant workers less and consequently see wage levels drop everywhere.”
The Community Centre is open 10am - 3pm every Tuesday and Wednesday. Ring
07548 096863 for details and to arrange an appointment. Note the centre is open to all nationalities.