Employers anticipate first refugees’ arrival

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by Chris Tobin

South Canterbury employers are interested in what skills the first family of refugees due to arrive in the city late next month might have.

“Presbyterian Support have already been contacted by some employers who are keen to learn more about the skill sets that the refugees will bring with them,” Presbyterian Support South Canterbury Family Works manager Liz Nolan said.

Employers had been put in contact with the Red Cross “who provide employment assistance to former refugees and assist employers throughout the transition of employing a former refugee”.

She said the Red Cross was in the process of appointing staff in Timaru new refugee settlement locations in provincial areas announced by the Government last year.

Presbyterian Support SC has been awarded the contract to handle the settlement process in Timaru.

A refugee settlement manager started last month and a volunteer co-ordinator, a case worker and a cross-cultural worker would also soon be appointed.

“There is a lot of planning occurring .. connecting with stakeholders in our community including South Canterbury District Health Board, Timaru District Council, schools and a wide variety of community service groups,” Ms Nolan said.

Immigration New Zealand was also closely involved.

The refugee intake was part of a pilot scheme by the Government to increase the quota from 1000 to 1500 annually.

A family of eight destined for Timaru would arrive at the Mangere Refugee Centre in the middle of this month, and in Timaru on April 24.

This evening (Thursday, March 5) a community-wide meeting will be held at the Timaru Indoor Bowls Club in Ranui Ave.

“We want to invite the community to be a part of the refugee settlement process,” Ms Nolan said.

“We believe .. . it is important we keep our community informed and aware of what we are working towards and allow them the opportunity to learn more about the refugee settlement process.”

The meeting will start at 5.30pm and finish at 7.30pm.