Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Polish family forced to flee home by racist thugs
A mother has been forced to flee the country with her three young children in the face of attacks and extortion threats by racist thugs on a Bradford housing estate.
Paulina Szynalska, 26, said she is living in the middle of a “nightmare” as her family is being persecuted for being Polish.
She said thugs had thrown bricks through windows and told the family they would only be left alone if they paid them.
Mrs Szynalska has lived in Holme Wood for three years and said she was happy there until recently.
The problems started earlier this month when she said up to three men kicked the door to the family home in Heysham Drive. Mrs Szynalska said the men were screaming about the family’s race.
The following Monday, February 11, Mrs Szynalska said a kitchen window was smashed at about 6pm when a small rock was thrown though it, which damaged the cooker hob.
“My eldest daughter was in the living room, but five minutes earlier she’d been in the kitchen,” said Mrs Szynalska.
“I was very scared. It’s the first time I’ve been in this situation.”
Mrs Szynalska, who lives at the home with her mechanic husband, Krzysztof, and their three daughters aged two and three, said a second kitchen window was broken two days later at about 6.15pm.
Last Friday Mrs Szynalska said her husband was shouted at by two men and a child who drove by the family home.
“They said, ‘if you don’t pay us, we won’t be quiet. We will break all the windows in your home’,” she said.
Sobbing, Mrs Szynalska said she was fearful for her husband’s safety while she was away and that her eldest daughter had not been able to sleep.
She spent £400 on flights to return to Poland yesterday, where she moved from five years ago to work in the UK.
“I’m going to stay with my mother to get the kids away. I just think it will be better for my kids, but I don’t know when I will see them again.
“My daughter’s woken up in the night and screamed, ‘I don’t want to be in this home,” Mrs Szynalska said.
Mrs Szynalska said she would return to Bradford at the end of this week, but leave her toddlers with their grandparents in Poland until the situation had improved.
Sergeant Adam Crisp, of the Tong and Wyke Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We are aware of the recent reports of damage at this address and are in close contact with both the family and local housing association.
“Anti-social behaviour and race-related crime will not be tolerated in our community and we take such incidents extremely seriously.”
Deputy Bradford Council leader, Councillor Imran Hussain, who has responsibilities for Safer and Stronger Communities, said no-one should be afraid in their own home.
“This is a very tragic case where a family clearly felt they had to leave. Nobody should be subject to this kind of hate crime or face fear like this.”
He said the Community Safety Partnership took such incidents very seriously and would continue to work with other agencies to make the district safe.
A spokesman for social housing group Incommunities said: “Last week, we responded immediately to a report of window damage but it would be inappropriate to comment further on individual cases.”
Anyone who has information about the crimes should contact police on 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.