They Come They Go
Sylvia Trocz has been our cleaner for two years. After her weekly three hour shift I give her a half hour English lesson, which is more conversation than grammar and something we both enjoy. Yesterday was her last day and on Sunday she goes back to Poland. So our last lesson spent was discussing her English experience.
Sylvia now 29 is from Torun a town in the centre of Poland about two hours from Warsaw. She is a chemistry graduate and before coming to England spent three years managing a restaurant. She is an attractive woman who had achieved some success as a runner,a sport in which she still has an interest.
In 2013 she followed her long standing boyfriend Radek to England. He had been here several years and had a job as a maintenance manager of a primary school in Hammersmith. They set up home with several other Polish couples in Perivale.
“Because my English was not very good I accepted that agency cleaning was the best I could get”. After a year of agency work Sylvia established her own clients, not least us. We gave her six other clients. She worked 40 hours a week,£11 an hour. Average wages in the UK are three times that of Poland. Sylvia doubled her wages by leaving the Agency. She also found that she was treated with more respect when she was working for herself.
As a naturally tidy, hard working and pedantic person Sylvia was a good cleaner. She was never late.“Although Radek and I were always earning and saving good money we always realised there was more to life. We were both close to our families who we visited several times a year. We had always planned to go home to get married and start a family. Many who stay do so because their families are in England.” After months of discussion about should they go or stay, matters were brought to a head when Radek who had switched to plumbing lost his job.
Our previous cleaner Joanne also Polish has with her boyfriend made England her home. Joanne was in her forties and not as close to her family.
“I am glad to be going home, it means a new phase and challenge in my life is beginning. My experience has given me more confidence and also made me realise that people the world over are pretty similar, they work, they take their kids to school, they go out in the evenings. My English has improved, I took evening classes. If I had my time again I would have relaxed and done more, travelled around seen a bit more of the country. We concentrated on the money. Radek first came to England because he wanted to get money to buy a car. In the end although we met some nice people we didn’t really fit in here. To be with our families is the main reason we are going home.”