WarCry by The Salvation Army by Bethany Slaughter, The Salvation Army Reporter

By CTTO Admin
Feature Article

Migrant Action Trust Finds New Home at Mt Albert Corps

The Mt Albert Corps building in Auckland—and its car park— are now home to the Puketapapa Community Driving School, operated by Migrant Action Trust.

Migrant Action Trust’s core mission is to help migrants and former refugees find work and belonging in Aotearoa through services such as job interview workshops, cover letter writing assistance and driver education.

The driving school was launched three and a half years ago. It provides lessons to full-paying customers, and this income is paid forward to fund lessons for former refugees to attain their driver licences, which is often an early hurdle to gaining employment.

‘It’s really life-changing for the former refugees; it means improving the wellbeing of their family, reducing social isolation, improving their chance to gain employment and, of course, road safety,’ says Programme Coordinator and Migrant Action Trust Manager Amie Maga.

If the learner driver has zero experience, the school recommends 5 to 10 lessons with an instructor, plus additional practise. ‘In three to six months, if they are ready for the test, we can arrange a driving assessment and mock test,’ Amie says.

The school relies on volunteer driving mentors to offer their time. Rina Nario-Capila began by volunteering once a week, then twice a week and, soon enough, every day. After Rina had volunteered for two years, Amie encouraged her to become a fully qualified instructor.

‘It is very fulfilling when people pass,’ Rina says. ‘The licence is a confidence boost for them, so having a restricted (licence) is really a big, big step ahead for them to brag, “I belong to New Zealand”.’

Ansha Adem was proud to receive her full licence in May. ‘I’m so happy because I want to work, but when you go in to work, they’re asking you about [having a] full licence.’

She says that moving to a new country was challenging, but being part of the programme has been a confidence booster and a great way to meet friends and helpers. ‘Thank you very much for this programme … and The Salvation Army.’

Puketapapa Community Driving School has a driving simulator as well as three dual-controlled practice cars, which are now parked in the Mt Albert Corps car park.

Migrant Action Trust connected with The Salvation Army after moving on from their previous space in Sandringham and have settled happily into their new home at the corps.

Funding is needed for Migrant Action Trust to continue running job support workshops, which improve migrants’ confidence and English skills before job interviews. As many migrants are anxious about the changing immigration policies in the current landscape, the Trust also has immigration advisors on hand for guidance at these workshops.

Another goal is to fundraise for an electric car next year, and Migrant Action Trust also hopes to support more volunteer mentors to become fully qualified instructors.

Puketapapa Community Driving School is reliant on new, full-paying customers for most of their funding. They encourage prospective learner drivers to consider their services, with the benefits of competitive prices and the knowledge that fees are enabling a migrant or former refugee to gain their licence.

‘We hope that we can send a message to Kiwi, and anyone who needs a driving lesson, to please choose our service, so they can pay it forward,’ Amie urges.


MORE INFO | for more information, go to pcds.co.nz

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