Page last updated at 14:13 GMT, Tuesday, 8 July 2008 15:13 UK

Diverse cultures' impact on north

By Steven McKenzie
Highlands and Islands reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Chinese dragon dance
Chinese are among the established cultural groups in the Highlands

There is an irony in the timing of concerns over the numbers of migrant workers leaving the Highlands.

The fears that this may spark a labour crisis come as celebrations are held in recognition of the area's diverse cultures.

The Highlands R Us Festival in Inverness included performances by, among others, the Chinese, African and Egyptian communities.

The festival highlights the impact migrants have had on the Highlands.

Here is a breakdown of some of the other ways their arrival has been felt in the area:

OVERSEAS WORKERS

Between April 2001 and March 2006, some 5,505 overseas workers moved to the Highlands. Inverness was the most popular destination, according to official figures, with 2,284 people moving to the city.

Many were from new EU member states in Eastern Europe, with Poles making up one of the largest groups.

Other research on the top 10 nationalities of workers granted work permits between 2002/03 to 2005/06 showed that Filipinos topped the list with 281 applicants, followed by Americans with 203.

Work permits have also been granted to South Africans and Bulgarians as well as workers from India, Russia and China.

CONSULATE PLAN

Just a few weeks ago proposals for a Polish consulate to be established in Inverness won backing from city councillors.

A Highland Council report said many Poles were enjoying life in the Highlands, but they did have some concerns.

These included integrating into a new society with different laws, different demands and a new cultural structure.

FREE NEWSPAPER

Last February, a bi-lingual newspaper was launched for the Highlands' Polish community in what is believed to be a first for Scotland. The free Gazeta z Highland was published by Golspie-based weekly the Northern Times.

The 16-page full colour tabloid-sized quarterly carries articles in Polish and English.

At the time Alison Cameron, deputy editor of the Northern Times, said having articles in both languages would help locals understand issues affecting the Polish community and help Poles learn English.

FOOTBALL CRAZY

Inverness Caledonian Thistle advertised its games in Polish as well as English in the local press in August 2006.

Caley Thistle wanted to compete with Celtic, whose goalkeeper Artur Boruc is a Pole, for Polish supporters.

A Caley Thistle spokeswoman said the club hit on the idea after staff handing out publicity leaflets and found many of the people they approached were Poles.

Interestingly, one of the club's most popular players of recent times was another Eastern European - Romanian Marius Niculae.




SEE ALSO
Workforce fears as migrants leave
08 Jul 08 |  Highlands and Islands
Poland plans contingency for 2012
05 Jul 08 |  Internationals


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