Our staff

Ula

Centre manager
In Hungarian: Minden rosszban van valami jó – in English: every cloud has a silver lining. These are words I live by – there is no situation without a way out, problems are to be solved, mistakes amended, those who were wronged should get satisfaction.

I am an optimist – I enjoy the simple pleasures of daily life, of meeting someone and hearing all about their life. Their stories flow through me like a river of colours, leaving their hues in my heart: mistakes made, endless problems, family dramas, tragedies sometimes. What room is left for optimism? Well – I like answering difficult questions! I’m optimistic because I always have hope – a hope which gives me a new dose of energy each day, to act and to unpick even the most tangled Gordian knots.

Thanks to this hope I am sure of this: whenever you fall, you can get back up. The evils in life are not just to be overcome – they can make you tougher and stronger. I am here at SOS Polonia, working to find the silver linings.

Nika

Deputy manager
A quiet, happy existence – this is the perfect state that I try to achieve every day. The state that I have never totally achieved. The daily pressures of life make sure that my goal is not easy. Something is always missing. But the harder something is to achieve, the more I want to attain it! So it’s not frustrating to purse this ideal, day after day. The journey is its own reward.

I view my work at SOS Polonia in a similar way. I want to help people on their way to a peaceful, happy life – even if the road to get there looks difficult. I’ve noticed that some migrants feel that moving to Britain has only made their road harder.

I am a Slav – Slovak blood, a Czech heart, Polish bones – but I’ve fallen in love my British husband and my English home. So I know how different this place is to the places I grew up, but I know from experience that just a little work can build a bridge from there to here.

If I can pass on only one thing to the people I help, it’s this: you need to believe in yourself, to have courage, and to know that it’s worth taking the first step.

Iza

Project worker
Those who ask do not get lost – this is my motto, in life and at work. This was particularly the case when I came to the UK, because at first it was so easy to get lost. I do not like to wander or feel lost – so from day one in this new country, I asked about everything. Over time, I found that I asked fewer questions from necessity, and more from curiosity.

Because I’m always asking questions, over the years I have built up a useful bank of information about people, issues, places, problems and ways to solve them. When I felt that I could finally stop asking so much, I found my way to SOS Polonia.

Now, the question that I ask sometimes several times a day is “how can I help”? More often than not, this question is followed by more questions that need to be asked in order to solve a difficult case.

I’m an optimist through and through, but now and then someone will come to SOS Polonia with a problem that even I think might be unsolvable. At times like these I remind myself: there’s no harm in asking again – after all, those who ask do not get lost! When keeping on asking brings good results, my clients are happy, and I’m happy too!

Jolanta

Project worker
In Southampton I found my home port. Only here did I realise that I had led a wanderer’s life in the past. Do I regret it? No – on the contrary, if not for my wanderings, how would I know so much about the world, how would I meet so many wonderful people, how else would I have experienced so many good things?

To wander is to experience life, to learn how to live. One day you can feel strong enough to move a mountain, the next day you’re not so sure. But step by step, you go learn to enjoy the horizon in front of you and to value the miles behind you.

My travels have taught me that obstacles exist so that you can overcome them, so you can learn to take them on boldly, with hope. My desire now is to share my experiences, to help people with their problems, to rebuild hope when hope is lost.

As a seasoned traveller, I know that finding SOS Polonia was no mere accident. It was meant to be – love at first sight. After all that I’ve seen in my wandering, I am privileged to be working for such an excellent organisation.

Kornelia

Project worker
I like strong, hot coffee with a hint of milk and honey. A burst of flavour that gives me the energy to start the day. A day is like a dance – each day has its own rhythm, its own sequence of steps.

When I’m dancing, I’m in my element – it gives me a feeling of freedom and joy. But dance also requires discipline. The steps must match the music. That’s the dancer’s duty – never lose the rhythm, never forget a step.

And what is life if not a dance? To live, to dance – with a good partner, with a good band, rhythmically, responsibly. How simple it seems…

I know that’s not how it works. An event, a situation, or a person comes along who throws our timing off – perhaps for years at a time. Then what? Well, isn’t it good if there is someone who can take our us hand, show us the steps, count the rhythm, take the lead? This art is no stranger to me.

Would you like to dance ….?

Laura

Project worker
My dream is to raise a happy family, to be a wife and a mother – this is my life adventure, which I am waiting for. “This girl has big dreams”, someone might say, “but what about a career, travelling, living a stylish life?” In my plans there is also a place for a career, I love travelling, and I promise that when I am juggling these with raising a family, I will do it with style! I forgot to add that I’ve already chosen my future career – I will be a clinical psychologist. I’ve always been good at listening to people and understanding them. Now I’m learning how to use this gift in the best way possible.

The work of SOS Polonia convinces me that it is worth taking the time to really understand others. You need to listen to people in a way that makes them want to talk to you, and talk to them in way that makes them want to listen – this is something I learned from Barbara Storey, the lady who invited me to work for of SOS Polonia share in this charitable mission.

I’ll admit that working at SOS Polonia was like jumping in at the deep end for me. I had to quickly become efficient at finding information, understanding regulations, and knowing which people can help solve a problem. It takes a mixture of determination and sensitivity to work on our clients’ issues. My job is about doing the right thing, but it is equally important to me that people – often lonely, rejected people – can count on our kind support and believe that all is not lost. A kind word and a smile can work miracles ….

Viola

English teacher
Things will work out for the best – that’s what I always say – and, moreover, what I will always believe. Probably this is because I’m happy with my life. What does happiness mean to me? I feel happy with my loved ones, and I have a job which brings a lot of work that gives me satisfaction. To be happy I need hope, freedom, and the ability to make my own choices.

My happiness gives me so much energy that I can’t keep locked it all up inside of me. So I don’t lock it up! But there have been times when I was missing happiness, hope, and energy. That is why I understand very well that for many people, hope is a distant light. I meet these people every day. They’re surrounded by a thick fog of problems, often because they can’t speak English. In such a fog it is difficult to find the right path. This fog is no stranger to me – I’ve been in there, I’ve known how hard it is to move through it, but I’ve also learned useful a helping hand can be.

So I teach English at SOS Polonia – this is my way to clear the fog. I try to keep my pupils from treating these lessons as something to endure with gritted teeth. I’m not content to just hand them a set of vocabulary and grammar rules. I really want them to have the courage to listen and to talk, when they meet their British colleagues and neighbours. I want to equip my students so they are not afraid to show kindness anywhere, even if they’re just smiling to people in a shop or on a street, they’ll be able to do this “in English”. This will be the key to understanding the places they have chosen for themselves and their families.

Wendy

Canis lupus familiaris
It may surprise you, but I work here too! Like everyone in this office, I’m a migrant. When my owner first came to the UK, I had to stay in Poland. I was very upset when she went, but I was overjoyed when she came back for me! I knew she would not leave me behind. She would not do that to an old dog.

I value loyalty in people – that is why I like my work at SOS Polonia. My job here is to bring a soothing sense of security and friendliness. People come to us with difficult matters, they are often anxious, worried and upset. I can feel it – and I understand it. When someone is sad and lonely I’ll wag my tail or lie down at their feet. People smile when they see me. Often they’ll pet me. As you may know, petting a dog is great for promoting happiness and relaxation – in humans as well as in dogs!

In front of our office is a beautiful park, full of flowers, benches, and wonderful smells. But what makes it truly beautiful for me is that I can walk through it with my owner. I would like to tell all migrants: a home can be wherever there is love, faithfulness and loyalty. Take it from this wise old migrant dog – it’s good to be together. Woof, woof!