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Home   Canterbury   News   Article

Homeless Poles Tadeusz Sobszak and Dorota turn shipping container into home in Canterbury

13 March 2014
by Alex Claridge

Tadeusz Sobczak, 37, and his friend Dorota, 48, who have set up home on a farm, are among dozens of eastern Europeans sleeping rough in Canterbury.

The number is poised to rise further if there is the expected influx of Romanians and Bulgarians materialises.

Poles are living in a metal container

Poles are living in a metal container

Mr Sobczak said: “We’ve been living here for four months. It’s a better place than on the streets.

"I used to work as a civil enforcement officer in London. It was work I got through an employment agency and then it stopped.”

Their graffiti-covered home is equipped with mattresses, bedding, cabinets and a dividing wall and curtain to create two separate bedrooms.

There are even toiletries and a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle featuring a photograph of a dog in the 6ft by 20ft metal container.

The living standards are basic

The living standards are basic

A small bed can be seen inside the metal container

A small bed can be seen inside the metal container

Asked why he and other Poles remain in the UK even if they are homeless, Mr Sobczak replied: “It’s better than going home. You feel like you always have a chance of getting a job here. There’s nothing in Poland.”

Terry Gore, of city homeless charity Catching Lives, expects migrants from Romania and Bulgaria to start arriving soon.

The outside of the Poles' basic home

But he fears not all of them will end up in employment or with roofs over their heads as some employment agencies have the promise of work later.

 “It’s better than going home. You feel like you always have a chance of getting a job here. There’s nothing in Poland” - Tadeusz Sobczak

Romania and Bulgaria saw restrictions on working in the UK lifted on January 1.

Mr Sobczak is among those Poles who have fallen foul of the law while in the UK.

He was arrested in December for stealing a £13 bottle of vodka from Sainsbury’s and magistrates imposed a one-year conditional discharge with £85 costs.

Tadeusz told the court he lost his memory on the night after drinking wine and taking painkillers.

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