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Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 15 November 2007 19:22
A wonderful apostolate that grew up in Poland under Communism has taken root in England: Barka
Fr. Nicholas Schofield of London writes

"Barka was set up in Poland at the time of the fall of Communism to look after those on the margins of society, particularly the homeless and alcoholics. They were invited to live in communities - more families than cold institutions - so that they could rebuild their lives and even set up small businesses, helped by 'leaders' who had been in the same situation themselves.

Barka UK was set up to deal with the most recent phase of Polish immigration following EU expansion in May 2004. Hundreds of thousands have come over to the UK over the past few years, encouraged by the Government, but many find themselves unemployed, homeless, exploited, defrauded of their passports and money, and without income support. Even in homeless day centres, tensions are raised because it is perceived that the Poles are 'taking over.'

Barka UK currently works mostly in Hammersmith and Fulham and helps homeless migrants in desperate situations return to Poland and live in Barka communities (such as the four farms they run in Wladyslawowo, Marszewo, Posadowek and Chudobczyce). Between July and October 2007 over 40 migrants were repatriated in this way."

A Catholic couple, Barbara Sadowski and Tomasz Sadowski, husband and wife psychologists, founded Barka in 1989. They set up the first Barka community, using the derelict school building in Wladyslawowo (in the West of Poznan). This first community gave a home for 25 “life wrecked”” individuals, who were living together with the Sadowski’s family.

Barka is involved with the European Migrants Integration Network. The creation of the European union and the inclusion of the many of the countries of the former Soviet bloc (the "new accession" countries) is changing the face of affluent western Europe. From hundreds of thousands of Rumanians have settled in Italy thousands of Poles flock to Britain and are flooding into Catholic parishes there. Some will return home but many more will stay.

How will this shape the future of Europe?

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