Language no barrier as student gets splash

By Jon Slattery

An offer by the Bristol Evening Post to take a student journalist from Poland under its wing paid off when he got the splash.

Karol
Jedlinski shared the front page by-line with Post chief reporter Julie
Harding, after they investigated the way criminal gangs were exploiting
and abusing Poles seeking work in Bristol.

Jedlinski, who is
studying at Warsaw University, was on a three-week attachment to the
Evening Post after winning a British Council competition for student
journalists.

Evening Post deputy editor Stan Szecowka said the
paper had originally wanted to do a series on the 3,000- strong Polish
community in the Bristol area which dates back to the end of the Second
World War.

He said: “Many of them have amazing human interest
stories about the war and escaping from PoW camps after fighting
alongside the allies. But recently we’ve had a new generation of Poles
recruited to work in the city and we thought it would be a good idea to
look at them and how they are settling in.”

When Szecowka talked
to the honorary Polish consul in Bristol, George Peszynski, he was told
of the claims that Polish workers were being exploited and threatened
by criminal gangs.

“The problem was that the guys being
terrorised could only speak Polish. Normally that would hamper our
story but Karol was able to dig around and met some of the victims and
interviewed them.

“He gave us the meat to carry out our own investigation into the problem.

Karol has the potential to be top reporter.”

The
Post story told how gangs were cheating Polish immigrants by charging
them fees for jobs that didn’t exist or were paying them pitifully low
wages and threatening them when they complained.

Jedlinski told
Press Gazette: “It was a surprise to get the front page story. It was
exciting working with Julie and it is a big thing that I could be
involved in a story, not only as a witness, but I was taking part.”

He
has now moved on to the Telegraph & Argus, Bradford, and wants to
become a social affairs journalist when he returns to Poland.

“I want to write about problems that nobody wants to see, like these Polish gangs,” he said.

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