The Relief Society for Poles (Eng. Towarzystwo Pomocy Plakom) How it all began
The formation of the Relief Society for Poles is closely connected with important events which occurred after the end of the Second World War. At that time, Stalin’s imposed communist regime in Poland took over the Polish Red Cross, however the organisation’s management board in London was able to transfer their duties and financial assets to a new body called the Relief Society for Poles Limited – a company limited by guarantee. The company was registered on 5th May 1948.
The role of the Relief Society at that time was to help Polish soldiers, civilians and their families to adjust to a new way of life in the UK. Many of them did not wish to return to what they considered a “foreign” Poland, a country run by the communists, and it was dangerous to do so. Some of the soldiers who fought on the Allies side during the Second World War chose to stay in the UK whilst others emigrated to the Americas, Canada and Australia. The work facing the Relief Society was enormous and involved establishing and running a Missing Family and Information Office, which operated by trying to re-unite families separated by the war. Alongside this work was the running of a number of hostels for Poles who had no immediate home to go to. The first chairperson of the organisation was Helena Sikorska, the wife of General Władysław Sikorski, the Polish Prime Minister and Commander in Chief of the Polish armed forces.
With the passage of time, The Relief Society for Poles set up a charitable trust, as a logical consequence of the evolving charitable nature of its work and priorities. Date of its foundation, 26th March 1986 is considered a milestone.
The work continues
Today, the work of the Relief Society for Poles is geared towards the provision of help, support and financial assistance to the Polish community, principally in the UK. To date there has been a particular emphasis on help afforded to the elderly. Their problems of loneliness, feelings of isolation and mobility issues, have been responded to by a network of volunteers providing them with important connections to their local Polish Community, reassurance and a sense of belonging. However, the changing nature of the Polish community in the UK has brought with it new challenges. The influx of many young Polish people in recent years has increased the demand for help and assistance in response to their particular needs.
Please see relevant sections of our website for further information.