SISTERS Maggie Kopanska and Dorota Michalowska moved to Worksop just over three years ago and were determined from the start to integrate with the local community.
As well as signing up for English classes at North Notts College they made enquiries about voluntary work.
Both are now volunteers with Worksop police and are going on specialist courses to expand the kind of work they can do.
Mum-of-two Dorota, 35, of Elms Road, said: “I can’t work because I have children and have to be able to collect them from school, but I didn’t want to be at home all day with nothing to do, so I decided to look for voluntary work which would be more flexible and fit around the children.”
Her husband Robert moved to Worksop by himself five years ago and Dorota and their children joined him just over three years ago. Robert works at the Shutz factory in Worksop.
Maggie, 36, and her 16-year-old daughter Paulina, live with them.
Maggie works as a stewardess for a Danish shipping company, working away for two weeks at a time and then being at home for two weeks.
She said: “We asked our English teacher at college how we could find out about volunteering and she suggested we contact the Bassetlaw Community and Voluntary Service.”
“We want to do something because we want to integrate with the community here. It also helps us to develop our language skills.”
“We are helping as much as we can and we are doing a community safety volunteer course so that we can get involved more in aspects like victim support.”
The sisters, who come from the seaside town of Swinouyscie in north west Poland, have helped with translation work for community events and are enjoying their new role.
They have just brought their 62-year-old father over here to live with them after their mother died this summer.
“Life is much easier here than in Poland, we have no plans to move back and we are looking to buy our own house here,” said Dorota.
Her son Maciej, 11, has just moved up to Outwood Academy Valley and her daughter Julia, five, has just started at Norbridge Primary.
Maggie, whose daughter is also at Outwood Valley, said: “You can earn enough money here to buy the things you need. In Poland the salaries are much smaller and more difficult to live on. There would be no chance of having a holiday for instance.”
Dorota studied economics at university in Poland but found that after she graduated there were no jobs available in their home town and she ended up taking a job as a shop assistant.
The sisters have found English fairly easy to learn, apart from some aspects of the grammar.
“People don’t always speak English in the way that we are taught it. My daughter’s English is very good and she even speaks in Worksop slang. I wish my English was as good as her’s,” said Maggie.
She met her Polish partner Jacek over here. He is a truck driver and currently lives in Liverpool, although is hoping to move here.
Maggie said: “We like Worksop because it’s the same size town as the one we come from, I’m not so keen on the big cities.”
They shop in local supermarkets but like to get their bread from the Polish shops.
“Your bread is lighter and is more like toast bread, whereas ours is thicker,” said Maggie. Dorota said they are also keen to share some of their Polish customs with their British neighbours.
“Our children have English friends and it’s nice to tell them some of our traditional customs. For instance at the end of winter we make a dolly and throw it into the river or water, to say goodbye to winter and hello to spring,” she said. They are also enjoying learning more about our customs and Dorota particularly likes our Christmas crackers.
“We have our Christmas day on 24th December and have 12 different dishes on the table,” she said. “One thing I find strange over here is that nobody swims in lakes. In Poland we take tents and camp out by the lakes and swim in them.”