Meet our interpreter in Newry
Published: Tue, 29 Sep 2015
We are collaborating with the Diversity and Inclusive unit at Newry Mourne and Down District Council.
We are providing a specialist customer service to immigrants who are making the area their home.
The weekly Tuesday clinic in the our office in Newry and is funded principally by one of our Community Cohesion grants with Newry Mourne and Down District Council.
The clinic is taken by Artur Kmiecik who is originally from Poland. He and his family didn’t really move for economic reasons, as they enjoyed a comfortable life in Poland, but because their eldest child expressed a strong desire to live here.
Artur moved to Newry with his family in 2006 when his wife was offered a six month contract to work in the area. Shortly after the family returned to Poland after the six month stint, their eldest child decided he would really like to return to Northern Ireland.
So with the whole family in agreement they decided to move over again for another six months and this six months has been regularly extended every six months! Now this is home!
Artur speaks a number of languages including English, Russian and German which with his own Polish have proved vital in being able to support others who have emigrated to Northern Ireland.
He has been involved with interpreting since he arrived first with STEP in Dungannon, then the NHS and also in local schools. He has worked with Newry, Mourne and Down Council since it became involved with the Ethnic Minority Centre in 2010.
Artur’s work with us began around this time. He said: “During a typical year I would receive 250 visits for help. It is my knowledge of Russian which helps me tremendously to communicate with those from Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia and Bulgaria. About half of those who attend my clinic come from my native Poland.”
In speaking about the main issues faced by those using the service he said:
“It is the formality of the forms which have to be completed; whilst their spoken English may be good, comprehension and written English can be a challenge.”
As part of his work Artur regularly helps compile housing benefit applications, support those who present as homeless through the process, deals with changes in earnings calculations, overpayment requests and appeals.
Artur heaps great praise on the our team in Craigavon whom he describes as “fantastic and very helpful.” He concluded: “I am proud of how the service with the Housing Executive in Newry has really helped, particularly in emergency situations. I have built a good relationship with the team in the local office and they have been able to get help to those in real need quickly. It’s a great partnership!”
Owen McDonald, the our Area Manager, is pleased with how the service has been received commenting:
“The team in the office is delighted to have the clinic onsite each week. It has proved a vital support to those who need a bit of extra help as they make Newry and Northern Ireland their home.”
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Cllr Naomi Bailie is delighted that Artur is continuing to interpret for ethnic minorities in the district. She is pleased the partnership with the Housing Executive is going from strength to strength. Cllr Bailie explained,
“The Council has embraced a number of wide-reaching initiatives aimed at fostering equality and inclusion of marginalised groups, especially recent migrants.
“In 2007, the former Newry and Mourne District Council opened an Ethnic Minority Support Centre to assist the growing minority ethnic population in the area. This Centre supports approximately 175 people a month.
“This outreach initiative at the Housing Executive’s office forms an integral part of our work in the community and I commend everyone involved.”
The clinics will continue at the our office in Boat Street, Newry, each Tuesday until end March 2016.