New support hub for foreigners in Queenstown inundated
More than 400 migrant workers and employers have already been helped by Queentown's new information centre, set up to help those stranded by Covid-19.
Thousands of foreign nationals caught out in New Zealand by the spread of Covid-19 have found themselves in challenging circumstances.
Popular tourist destinations have been especially affected, and the Queenstown Lakes District Council and social support services in the resort town have been grappling with thousands of welfare requests.
In response the council opened the Kia Kaha Queenstown Lakes Community Hub on 4 June to help advise and inform those in need.
A week after opening and nearly every information session had been booked out, even with extra sessions added, the council said. Speakers included Immigration NZ, travel agents, the Citizen's Advice Bureau and the Salvation Army.
Hub spokeswoman Marie Day said she was pleased so many people were engaging with the service either at the centre, or on live streams online.
"We have had great feedback from participants about the sessions. Many were finding it tough to make sense of the information they were given, often by friends or family. The sessions have given them confidence and reassurance, and the best possible advice to help them make decisions about their future.
"It's also been great to see a good uptake in the business employer sessions. Employers are ... looking for ways to support and advocate on behalf of their staff."
One session this week was held in Glenorchy after a community request.
Argentinian Magui Isla, who lives in Glenorchy, attended the information session.
"Being away from home is already hard enough, and being in quarantine as a foreigner is even more difficult," Isla said.
"The fact that the Queenstown Lakes Hub Seminar came all this way to Glenorchy to gift us with their time and to discuss our options, it's heart-warming. It makes us feel we are not left alone in this tiny town."
Day said it was important for migrants to stay informed and be prepared, even if they did not plan to return home.
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