Our new 2-year ‘Poles in South London: Local Heroes Archive’ project aims to work with
Polish residents and project partners including Lambeth Archives, Polish
Supplementary Schools and the Polish Embassy to identify, promote and preserve the
local heritage of the Polish diaspora in South London since the Second World War.
With funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Polish
Embassy, we will deliver a project focused on a critical but neglected part of the Poles’ story
in London – the growth and decline of the ‘Gmina Polska Londyn-Poludnie’ (GPL-P),
the Polish Community Association of South London. This will help to identify and
preserve the heritage of key events and organisations that supported the Polish
community in South London after the war.
The Polish Community Association of South London aimed to preserve Polish
language, culture and heritage. It engaged with community groups, activities and
organisations including schools, scouts and folk-dance clubs. Many of these survive
to this day, but their origins are being lost. We will preserve the memories of those
engaging in activities supported by the Gmina Polska London – Poludnie for future
generations, using our project to celebrate and strengthen relationships between
Poles and the wider community.
Our team will be trained in oral history skills and archival methods. Together with
volunteers and descendants of the Association’s leaders and activists, we will create
engaging material to bring together Polish and wider communities in London. The
project will create important heritage assets in the form of oral history interviews, films,
interactive exhibitions, educational materials and event recordings. While starting the
project during the Covid-19 pandemic has confronted us with a number of challenges,
this unprecedented situation gives us new and attractive ways of engaging people in
preserving and celebrating their heritage.
Commenting on the award, one of the project coordinators, Marta Sordyl, said: “It’s so
important to remember the enormous contribution made by the Gmina to the things
Polish people do and enjoy today in South London, ranging from scouts to community
centres and folk dancing. This project will help us celebrate the special relationship that developed between Poles and the wider South London community after the war
– a relationship still thriving today!’