Swietlica started in May 2006 in the Fort Community Wing in the Leith area of Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh.
From the modest aim of setting up a chess club it has become Edinburgh’s largest and most successful centre supporting the new Polish Community.
Run by committed volunteers with some support from Multi-Cultural Family Base , it provides welfare advice, information, counselling, education as well as social and recreational activities. Between 80 to 100 people, from all over Edinburgh and the Lothians, but the majority from Leith, attend regularly on a Monday between 4.00 and 9.00 p.m. Although the centre caters mainly for the Polish Community, everyone is welcome to attend and many non-Poles do come along.
What does “Swietlica” mean?
In translation it means a ‘meeting place’, in Scots you could call it the “howf” but Swietlica means much more than that for members of Edinburgh’s Polish community. And weekly social activities are not restricted to Polish people. Monday gatherings at Fort Community Wing are welcoming events for all local people, as volunteer organiser Kasia Raszewska explains in a short article on the Leith Open Space blog:
“The Edinburgh Polish Community ‘Swietlica’ was established in Leith in April 2006 by a group of people committed to making a positive change. Swietlica provides a range of activities and services for Polish migrants, particularly for people who are disadvantaged, isolated or vulnerable.
“This is the first and very successful community facility for the new migrant Polish community in Britain, providing free advocacy, social support, guidance, and advice services. In its first year Swietlica received more than 4,000 requests for support from adults and children. This high level of demand confirmed the need for a community base and support services for the Polish community. Since then, Swietlica has been a focal point for Polish people, providing an evolving range of services including: welfare advice, information, counselling, education as well as social activities. Although the centre caters mainly for the migrant community everyone is welcome to attend and many local people do come along.
All services, activities and food are free of charge. All this has been made possible by the dedicated, steadfast commitment of a strong volunteer group of 30 Polish professionals: social workers, teachers, psychologists as well as service users who are regularly helping out at the Centre.
“The generous donations and funding not just from within the Polish community but also from the wider Scottish community are of great importance. In particular, the funding and support received from Multi-Cultural Family Base, Fort Community Wing, Cattanach Charitable Trust, City of Edinburgh Council, North & Leith Local Development Community Grants Fund, Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Edinburgh have been of great assistance.”
If you would like to find out more, visit Swietlica
open every Monday between 4 and 9 pm at
Fort Community Wing, North Fort Street, EH6 4HR.
Swietlica youtube channel>>>