Mags Brady has been in the UK ever since 1989. She says: “The values from the Polish culture have shaped who she is today.”
In 2007 she helped set up PBIC, an organisation that was originally established to help Polish migrants settle, achieve, and contribute in Bedford. Recently it has rebranded to aid migrants from many different nationalities with the website translated into five languages.
“We’re here to ensure that anyone arriving in Bedford has the basic needs to function in our community,” said Mags.
“We help them access mainstream services by removing the language and cultural barrier. Covid times have been really hard.”
PBIC has helped many migrants, particularly following the consequences of Brexit. They have helped people apply for the settlement status (EUSS), a necessity to work and live in the UK. A lot of migrants find it hard to complete it, because of the language barrier, which is where the PBIC comes into play, helping the migrants with any paperwork and ensuring that they can stay in the UK.
Besides this, the PBIC does numerous things for the migrants in our community here in Bedford.
“We run English lessons, help our clients access health care, sign their children up to school and develop career paths,” said Mags.
“We also run Promethidion – a Polish song and dance group – who wear traditional Polish national dress. We are always looking for new members.”
Additionally, PBIC gets involved with events such as Heritage Day, Bedford River Festival and Children’s Day which originated as a celebration in Poland.
They also worked on the ‘Poland in Bedford’ exhibition, in the Higgins museum, which included interviews with Poles that came to the town after the Second World War. The exhibition celebrated 100 years of Poland’s independence.
One of the latest things that the PBIC has taken part in is the Bedford Running Festival, where they had several runners from the organisations taking part to raise money for the organisation.
Mags said: “The biggest achievement of the organisation is that we are now open to other nationalities. Along with the development of our team, we have established good relationships between our volunteers, staff, and trustees.
“It’s all about integrating migrants within our community and allowing Bedford to be the place which we all call home.
“I feel in the right place.”
by Mikolaj Mackowiak
Bedford Independent guest editor