From “one-stop-shop” to outreach services - Canterbury Migrants Centre embarks on a new journey

(caption for the above picture: George Clark with the ever-smiling Wenonah Bolton)

The Canterbury Migrants Centre (CMC), earlier known as Christchurch Migrants Centre, has recently formally reviewed its operations, vision as well as the direction, and has restructured its modus operandi. George Clark, earlier the Chair of the Centre's Board and now the Managing trustee shared the reasons behind the changes.

“The Centre in the last six years of its existence has worked very well in terms of being a one-stop-shop for providing all the migrant services. With the population predominantly European, we needed a focussed place in August 2010 to represent the increasing numbers of 160 plus ethnic groups that we have in Christchurch now. But in the last 2-3 years that model has outgrown its utility. Not only in the Garden City but in various other big centres such as Auckland and Wellington, there is now a universal agreement to shift the focus towards outreach services. That’s why going forward the CMC will have a three-pronged approach to serve the diverse ethnic groups in the region,” informed Clark.

Out-reach services

One facet of this renewed approach is to consolidate various activity-based services developed and coordinated by CMC’s Outreach Coordinator Jane Song, and expand it to the greater mid and north Canterbury areas.

The Centre is also initiating a collaboration with Primary ITO to reach out to the migrant workers which have flooded rural Canterbury in recent years.

“Such workers and their families face the biggest problem of rural isolation, which our outreach services will be targeting in the near future.”

Migrant information services

Moreover, building on the successful collaboration with Delia Richards of the Philippine Culture and Sport organisation with regard to providing support to Filipino migrant workers who came for rebuilding Christchurch, the Centre has decided to expand these migrant information services to all migrant groups in the city.

“For this we will be collaborating with agencies across the board including Immigration NZ, Canterbury's Employment Chamber of Commerce, other employers, and academics in the region’s major universities,” added Clark.

Communication and digital services

The final element of the new approach is geared towards developing the digital and communication services including The Migrant Times newspaper, the Migrant Hub website, and other social media avenues. This initiative is being led by Centre’s Community Liaison and Marketing Coordinator Kevin Park.

“While we have shifted our focus to outreach services, we still are maintaining our base in the city’s CBD, which aligns perfectly with the newly re-elected City’s Mayor Lianne Dalziel. She has noted that in the next three years she wants to see at least 20,000 people living and working inside the four avenues. We support her vision and want to do our part in making that a reality,” explained Clark on the need to still maintain a base in the city centre.

He also had some good words for the region’s local authorities as regards to embracing increasing diversity, and developing multicultural strategies and initiating newcomers networks.

“What we think still needs to happen is a proactive work on some very obvious issues such as providing support for ethnic languages to grow, creation of more employment opportunities, assistance in integrating ethnic groups in the wider community, and most importantly, wider recognition for academic qualifications of migrants coming to New Zealand,” Clark concluded.