Police break culture barrier
MIGRANT workers and their families from Eastern Europe were taught the history of the Tamar and Plymouth Sound as part of a special emergency services event.
PC Patrick Connolly, the migrant workers' officer for Devon & Cornwall Police, worked with charity Amber Initiatives to encourage the workers and their children to learn more about what police, fire and Ministry of Defence police do.
ON THE WATER: Ministry of Defence PCs Chris Gibbs and Ian Gould with interpreter Inna Timoshenkov on a police rib
BRIDGING THE DIVIDE: Ministry of Defence police sergeant Phil Ryeland (second left) with Amber Initiatives interpreters Yuriy Timoshenkov, Inna Timoshenkov, Dominika Paszkiewicz, Alec Dybov and Andrejs Kaplins
BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS: PC Patrick Connolly, migrant workers' officer, talks to Anna and Krystyna Nedza, from Poland
He said the aim was to break down barriers, both cultural and linguistic, which often meant the migrants shied away from speaking to organisations which keep people safe.
He said: "They can be very isolated by language problems, although often their children are pretty fluent in English. Some are here for just a few months while others put down roots over time.
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"There's a cultural difference in that in their countries, many of these people are afraid of contacting the emergency services, particularly the police, for a variety of reasons.
"In many Eastern European countries, they are not even allowed to go up to police officers and speak to them.
"We wanted to engage with them, make them aware they are free to talk to us, ask us advice or for help, or tell us their concerns."
Fire crews offered free home safety checks while eight interpreters from the Amber Initiatives — which supports migrant workers in Plymouth and Cornwall — bridged the language gaps.
PC Connolly said: "The charity has volunteers who speak the many languages, helping them with issues like rates, taxes, bank details. They did the initial contact with the migrant families and we arranged the day.
"My particular role is paid for through the migrant workers' fee to enter the UK, so it's not a financial drain on Devon & Cornwall Police.
"We had 130 parents and children on a boat going around the Tamar and Sound, learning the history and thanks to Ginsters we were able to offer them local pasties. The MoD were excellent, bringing loads of kit to show them."