Colombian migrant Evelyn Cabezas Caicedo, left, is being supported by Nelson’s new community navigator, Jenni Bancroft. Photo: Kate Russell.

Helping migrants navigate Nelson


While even the best of us can struggle with tax forms and job interviews, it can be almost impossible for new migrants and former refugees.

That’s where Jenni Bancroft comes in.

Last month, Jenni was appointed to a new role at the Victory Community Centre – ‘community navigator’.

Her job is to help migrants and ethnic communities around Nelson and Tasman connect to services such as Work and Income, IRD, health care, and help them with other key processes and situations in their settlement journey.

She’ll even teach them the basics of making an appointment to view a rental property, filling out forms and writing a CV.

“Red Cross helps them with these things for six to 12 months, but after then, some people still need help. These things can be hard for us, so how are they supposed to make it happen?” says Jenni.

“Migrants, mainly from Colombia and Myanmar, are either referred to me from schools or other agencies, or they can just simply show up.”

The role is an initiative of three local community organisations – Victory Community Centre, Multicultural Nelson Tasman, and English Language Partners. It is being funded by Nelson City Council and the Rāta Foundation.

Jenni, who came from a role at Multicultural Nelson Tasman, says there was a “gap” in the services being offered, with language barriers and cultural differences being the biggest hurdles to overcome.

One migrant she has helped is Colombian mother of three, Evelyn Cabezas Caicedo – who refers to Jenni as “superwoman”.

She moved here just over a year ago with a Spanish early childhood qualification and approached Jenni for help with putting a proposal together.

“I want to visit early childhood centres in Nelson and spend one hour a week teaching them Spanish, so Jenni has been helping me with typing my proposal and checking it for spelling,” says Evelyn.

Jenni, says although she is still “finding her feet”, the best part of the job is seeing people learn how to do things independently.

“I also love building relationships, hearing their stories and seeing their journeys.”

The role is also being observed by other services and communities of the region and nationwide, as an innovative model of what could be a broader response to the facilitation of migrant settlement in New Zealand.

For more information, contact Jenni on 03 546 8389 or email [email protected]