They came to Britain in search of prosperity, with higher wages on offer here than they could ever hope to earn in their homeland.
But for one group of Polish migrants, the dream has turned sour, as work has dried up in the credit crunch.
Unable to find a job and ineligible to claim benefits, they have been reduced to living in a shanty town of tents pitched on a muddy riverbank.
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Branches serve as makeshift washing lines, or a place to hang up what few belongings they have, while they survive mainly on hand- outs of food from kindhearted locals.
Yet charity workers say the four men who have set up camp next to the River Witham in Lincolnshire are luckier than some.
Other Polish migrants who have lost their jobs do not even have tents and are said to be sleeping rough in the bushes.
In the city of Lincoln alone, it is estimated there are now at least 30 homeless Poles, double the number there were six months ago.