Language services vital for newcomers
Building a life as a migrant can be tough when you don’t understand how your new world works.
To make things easier the Citizens Advice Bureau runs its Language Link service so those new to New Zealand can get advice in a language they know.
‘‘We give advice and information covering almost all facets of life,’’ Language Link manager Durga Ray says.
In June Language Link is celebrating its 10th anniversary.
When it started it offered only nine languages. Now it offers help in 25 languages from English to Kurdish, and Kiswahili.
It gets more requests for help from Mandarin speakers than any other language, followed by Korean, and Arabic.
The Three Kings-based service fields about 1000 calls and visits a month from the area and other parts of the country.
Many are immigration and housing based questions.
‘‘It can be difficult for migrants to find a place to live because most places need references. For a newcomer it can be particularly difficult to get a reference.
‘‘It depends on the country of origin but many people from Asian are very interested in the education of their children.
‘‘A lot of them want to know what the best school in the area is. We can’t give them that opinion but we can give some Mrs Ray says.
‘‘Nowadays with the skilled migrant category for immigration we are getting less calls from people needing help finding work, there are other agencies that help with that.’’
Mrs Ray says it takes a special kind of person to work at Language Link.
‘‘We’re not a translation service at all. We are working with the community so you have to be a real community person,’’ she says.
Fitting in: Citizen’s Advice Bureau Language Link staff, led by Durga Ray, front, give new migrants the information they need to build a new life in New Zealand in their own language.