A.M. Bakalar – An important lesson for Polish migrants in the Before You Go film
‘Before You Go is a new short film produced by the homelessness organisation The Passage that urges Poles to think carefully before coming to Britain because they may end up living on the streets. The video has received the backing of the British government in conjunction with the Polish embassy.
It tells the story of a young man and a woman whose lives change dramatically after they lose their jobs. With no savings or language skills, they are left destitute. The film shows the young man being set on fire after he is forced to sleep on the streets. It ends with a clear message: if you are planning to come to Britain, make sure you are prepared. Speak the language and bring enough money.
Many have mocked the film’s amateur acting, but it carries an important lesson: there is no doubt that homelessness is becoming a pressing problem among Poles in Britain, especially in London. According to data published in March 2013 by Thames Reach, a homelessness charity, Poles constitute 11% of the total number of homeless in the capital, “by far the biggest number of people from one country other than the UK”.’
A.M. Bakalar was born and raised in Poland. Madame Mephisto is her first novel and was among readers recommendations to the 2012 Guardian First Book Award. She is the first Polish woman to publish a novel in English since Poland joined EU in 2004. A.M. Bakalar lives with her partner, a drum and bass musician, in London. She is currently at work on her second novel.