5 Aug 2020

Auckland hub for stranded immigrants to help them out of 'no man's land'

11:56 am on 5 August 2020

Plans are underway for an information hub in Auckland to help immigrants stranded or jobless because of Covid-19 and desperate for news on visas.

Auckland City's marina during the Covid-19 alert level four lockdown.

Auckland City's marina during the Covid-19 alert level four lockdown. Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

A Queenstown centre set up in June to offer immigration and welfare support was inundated with requests for help.

The Association for Migration and Investment said there was a clear need to replicate that support in New Zealand's biggest city.

Its chair, June Ranson, said there had been suicides among foreign workers, with others also being pushed to their limits mentally by fears about their futures.

She spoke to immigrants on the weekend and gave them advice on steps to take to maintain their mental health.

"To remain positive, to be eating healthily, to be talking to positive people, to avoid drugs and alcohol and to keep active," she said.

"Hopefully changes will come through - we're in very difficult times, hang in there. I think that anybody involved in our industry, we all need to be well equipped in being able to handle that conversation. I'm of the understanding that even the immigration case officers have been confronted with similar types of things."

She said advice on visas would be available at the hub, which she hoped it would open in a few weeks' time.

Although some visas have been extended, many will expire in late September and stricter immigration rules and a tightening job market are making visa renewals harder.

She said one employer described what had happened to a staff member since lockdown.

"They have seen their employee just transform into a walking ghost and they said it's horrific," she said.

"They said that they are just trying desperately to think what can they do to help. And it's all to do with the processing of visas and the not knowing. And because of the visa situation, they're going to be plunged onto visitor visas and then it comes down to money and how they're going to survive.

"They're in no man's land, they just don't know where they're going, they feel that their brain is screwed up. They just feel that they're standing in a spot. And they can't see anywhere to move."

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7) or text 4202

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: online chat (3pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 helpline (12pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-11pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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