Lan­guage ser­vices vi­tal for new­com­ers

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

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.

op­tions,’’

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

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.

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