Serving up advice & guidance with the Association for Polish Family

Today would have marked nearly the end of the first week of play at The Championships, Wimbledon. So instead of watching the world best tennis players compete, we are celebrating our partnership with the Wimbledon Foundation, the charity of the All England Lawn Tennis Club and The Championships, their generous contribution to our COVID19 response work and the incredible organisations in Merton and Wandsworth their funding has supported.  

One such organisation that received emergency funding from the Wimbledon Foundation is the Association for Polish Family, who have been able to expand their digital services in order to continue to support those who might struggle to access vital information and services during lockdown.  

The Association for Polish Family was initially established in 2007 as a playgroup but has since expanded its range of activities in response to the needs of the Polish Community in the London Borough of Merton, including advice and support, interpretation and translation services. Most recently, and as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been able to expand its range of digital services with the help of funding from the Wimbledon Foundation’s contribution to LCF’s London Community Coronavirus Appeal.

With a grant of £6,749, the Association for Polish Family was able to purchase extra IT equipment which enabled them to work remotely and continue to support the local community during lockdown.  

Slawek Szczepanski of the Polish Family Association said, "There are coronavirus support hubs but Poles are not accessing Covid-19 specific services as there is a language barrier, this is compounded because of anxieties that their English is not good enough and they would not be able to explain what their needs are".  

A lot of the people that the Polish Association supports are self-employed or normally rely on casual work within the retail or catering industry; sectors which have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.  

"It is a challenging time for our members and for us as an organisation", said Slawek. "But the approach and empathy from my staff has been amazing, the community mobilisation, volunteering and support offered is just outstanding.”  

Lockdown is causing uncertainty and disruption in all our lives, but Slawek and his colleagues also found that it was causing additional anxiety for EU nationals who were concerned about their future status in the UK.  

“We have provided advice and information to 752 members from Polish and other Eastern European communities on how to access government schemes and apply for emergency support during the Covid-19 pandemic. But we have also been providing remote support to people preparing for the UK’s transition out of the European Union. 127 individuals from small and medium businesses received support on preparing for Brexit and settled status and 32 people attended our online workshops.”  

“I would like to say thank you to The London Community Foundation and to the Wimbledon Foundation”, said Slawek. “The trust you had in our organisation over the years means that we are in position now to help and support the most vulnerable families in our community, without that those people will suffer even more."