Debate worry for migrants

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"Very busy" . . . Aoraki Migrant Centre support manager Rosie Knoppel says the Timaru-based organisation is busy helping clients with a variety of issues. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

by Greta Yeoman

Immigration discussions are causing insecurity for South Canterbury migrant workers and their families, the Aoraki Migrant Centre’s support manager says.

Rosie Knoppel said things were “very busy” at the centre, clients needing support for a variety of issues, including the language barrier, cultural differences, employment, loneliness and homesickness.

While it was often easier for families with children to connect to the wider community through schools, those that did shiftwork, such as on farms, often found it hard to socialise, given their working hours, she said.

Because of this, the centre had a variety of social groups around town for new migrants to connect, including a coffee group, pot-luck dinners, walking groups and barbecues.

Election debates concerning immigration were causing insecurity for people, some feeling unsure they would be allowed to stay in the country, Mrs Knoppel said.

“It makes it hard to .. have a normal life.”

The centre hosted monthly visits from an Immigration New Zealand adviser, whom migrants could talk to about any concerns or issues they had, she said.

The next visit would be on September 8 and people could contact her to organise a time to talk to the adviser.

Migrants were important for businesses around the country as employers rely on them to fill gaps in the workforce, Mrs Knoppel said.

It was also difficult for businesses to feel secure about their future if they were uncertain about the future of their employees, she said.

Timaru residents were welcoming of migrants, Mrs Knoppel said.

The centre was always on the hunt for more volunteers to help with its programmes and people could contact her if they were interested in helping out.

Phone (03) 687-7371 or go online to aorakimulticulturalcouncil.org.nz for more information.