There are an estimated 750,000 people with Polish connections in the UK today. Polish immigrants have arrived in the UK in several different waves over the last three hundred years or so.
The first wave started in late eighteenth century when Poland was partitioned by Austria, Prussia and Russia. The wartime Emigracja (1940-1950), made up of members of the Polish Armed Forces and their families and political prisoners from concentration camps in Germany and Russia, brought an estimated 165,000 Poles to the UK. The most important areas of settlement are London (particularly the western and northern boroughs), the industrial North and the Midlands. Small numbers of new migrants arrived in the wake of the Solidarity Movement in the 1980s. More recently, the UK is proving to be a popular destination following Poland's entry into the European Union.
In May 2004, eight (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, known as the "Accession Eight" - A8), Eastern European nations joined the EU.
According to Home Office sources (Working Registration Scheme - WRS), between May 2004 and September 2007, 743.000 people from A8 registered to work in the UK. By far and away the largest group of people coming to the UK has been the 489.720 Polish citizens. They make up 7,2 out of every 10 Eastern European immigrants in Britain. 8 out of 10 of the Polish emigrants who have come to Britain since May 2004 have been under 34, the male to female ratio for immigrants is 55:45. Employees covered under WRS, applied to work for employers based all over the UK, however more than 181.000 Polish citizens registered to work in the Midlands (82,438), North West (51,889),Yorkshire & Humber (38,054), North East (8,635).
The Polish community is served by 113 Community Centres, 82 Catholic Parishes, and 67 Saturday Schools. The largest Polish library in the world outside Poland is located in the Polish Social and Cultural Centre (POSK) in Hammersmith, London, which is also home to a theatre and a British-Polish Chamber of Commerce Enterprise Centre.