The current Scottish government has expressed a positive approach to immigration which makes Scotland a particularly attractive destination for migrants from Eastern Europe. Figures showing a higher than UK average increase of East European migrants to Scotland bear this out. Despite a twenty-fold increase of Polish and Lithuanian immigration to Scotland since the early 2000s, the largest increase in any part of the UK, public and voluntary organisations, charities and councils have few resources to address urgent issues of East European migration.
This programme will focus on the importance of understanding social, cultural and economic parameters of integration of migrants into Scottish society, and how awareness of common links of heritage and its influence on identity can improve and ease the integration of migrants into their new environment. The comparison of different migration waves over time, as well as the comparison of experiences of different groups of East European migrants will facilitate a dialogue between academics, policy-makers, charities and migrant communities and ensure a better coordination of their endeavours at community-level.
Our goal is to apply models and develop resources for future policy-making and improve understanding of the potential social, cultural and economic benefits that could be derived from the integration of these communities. Novel approaches will include outreach to schools which are under pressure from large numbers of Polish and other East European pupils, a public seminar on 'Transnational Biographies' of people that shaped a shared East European-Scottish heritage into the present, policy papers for MSPs in the cross-party group on Poland in the Scottish Parliament, seminars including the business community on particular features of the East European migrant market, and "Community Cafes" on the sustainability of business and tourism from Eastern Europe to Scotland.
View below a selection of images from the Primary Schools Workshops which took place in Aberdeen on 19 and 20 February. The project featured Wojtek, the Second World War bear. As a soldier, he fought with the Polish army in Monte Cassino. In 1947 he was given to Edinburgh Zoo where he ended his life.