A SUPPORT group that provides vital help to Omagh’s migrant community will be reopening its offices to the public on Monday.
From their base in Community House, the Omagh Ethnic Communities Support Group (OECSG) assists members who have come from as many as 30 countries across the globe to make Tyrone their home.
And with migrant workers feeling particularly isolated during lockdown and with continuing uncertainty over future employment for many, the OECSG is needed more than ever.
With the office having to be closed for almost four months due to the lockdown restrictions, the group became reliant on technology to maintain their level of service.
Nick Cassidy, manager of OECSG, said, “While the lockdown has been a barrier in some respects for everybody, we were a little better prepared for it as we’ve always based our work very largely on technology.
“Thanks to that, we have been able to sustain about 80 per-cent of our advice work. Social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp have been a godsend to us in these circumstances. Also a lot of our enquiries can be dealt with over the phone.”
But Mr Cassidy admitted that many cases also require face-to-face contact as well, so he is looking forward to opening up the office to the public once again on July 6.
In order to comply with the strict Covid-19 regulations, a number of changes have had to be made to how their services are offered.
Appointments will be by prior arrangement only and the drop-in service that operated prior to the lockdown will no longer be available.
Mr Cassidy said, “When people do come in they will have to follow guidelines relating social distancing, hand sanitising and wearing face masks.”
He added, “Normally, we will only see one person, but if they are from the same household we’ll see two. We’ve asked people, please do not bring children unless it’s obviously necessary.”
Mr Cassidy forsees that the OECSG will have to make even more use of technology in the coming months to maintain their popular cultural events at Halloween, Christmas and Chinese New Year.
The group manager said that they were trying to be as optimistic as possible in the circumstances, but they still had to deal with reality.
Mr Cassidy urged local employers, authorities and schools to not just welcome migrant workers, but to make them feel needed.
“I think that’s more important for their confidence. They add to the diversity of life and they make life better for us,” he added.
• For more information, visit the OECSG Facebook page.