Continuing the topic I started about a more comfortable adaptation to life in Ireland, I want to tell you about Information Centers created specifically for the population, and not only for visitors, although most of their visitors are, of course, people who came to Ireland to live and work different nationalities. In English, the name of these community centers sounds like 'City Center Citizens Information Service' - CCCIS.
CCCIS - Any Information & Help for Visitors
The river Liffey makes Dublin the most fair city of Ireland
There are many of these centers both in Dublin and in every Irish city. What does the CCCIS do and for what purpose did the state allocate money from the budget to their organization and continue to subsidize them today, especially now, when experts from more than 200 countries of the world came to Ireland? If you have problems and you don’t know who to ask for help in a foreign country, feel free to come to the City Center Citizens Information Service, which is located in the very center of Dublin at 13A, Upper O’Connell st. or find one in the city of Ireland where you stayed after your arrival.
In Ireland, СССIS began its work in 1999 and over the years, in total, these community information centers have helped more than 1,000,000 people, both locals and immigrants. People call to these centers by e-mail and make phone calls, but 80% of visitors come to the centers personally. I am not an exception, and somehow I was led to find a similar center on a personal issue and having decided it, I decided to write an article for Our Gazeta and received permission to be interviewed at the City Center Citizens Information Service, which is located in the very center of the capital , 13A Street, Upper O'Connell.
City Citizens Informartion Centre Service, Dublin
Deirdre Casey, PR Manager, talks about the work and structure of the Irish CCCIS.
- Deirdre, the numbers of your visitors are, frankly, impressive - up to 100 people a day. And you only speak about your center, here in Dublin. What then to talk about the whole country?
- Yes, the number of visitors to all CCCIS throughout our country increased sharply in 2004–2005 after Latvia, Poland, Lithuania and Estonia joined the European Union and, compared with 1999, 2000, today we serve significantly more people every day. Therefore, physically, we cannot accept anyone who comes to us directly from the street, running through O’Connell, all our employees work very hard and it’s best to call our center first and you will be given time to consult. It smells a little bureaucracy, but otherwise today it is impossible to accept the sharply increased number of our clients and to enter the position of each individual person with his problem. Everyone needs to listen, and understand his situation and it takes a lot of time. Fortunately, two girls work for our employees in the center, for whom Russian is their native language, and this greatly facilitates working with people who came to Ireland from the countries of the post-Soviet space.
- What kind of questions do you most often have to decide?
- I think our center is almost unique, because we provide information to solve almost any everyday issue - how to register with the FAS (Training and Employment Authority in English and FAS in Irish), and where to get PPS No, where in Dublin there are agencies on job placement, on which websites and in which magazines and newspapers ads for free job vacancies are published, how to find housing, our lawyers will advise how to leave their spouses with less losses, get an insurance policy, how to pay taxes, what age f you have the right to retire, and where to turn if you have depression, and many other problems and controversial issues have to solve all of our employees. Most of the questions that interest our visitors are related to social assistance, Social Welfare, as well as the rights of immigrants in society and in the workplace, their protection in cases of discrimination, unfairly accrued wages or non-payment of vacation or sick leave. Before joining the European Union of the above-mentioned countries, we also helped our clients obtain a visa, work permit, residence permit or citizenship, that is, they solved issues of a purely legal nature. I want to emphasize that in the CCCIS people get qualified information, advice and help for free.
-If children are born in Ireland or the parents decide to bring them here, can new EU citizens expect to receive benefits for their maintenance here?
- Parents often turn to the center with similar questions and they can receive an allowance for the upbringing of children if they produce all the necessary documents and if they do not receive the same allowance for children in their home country.
- Are there cases when a person was ill for a long time and was in the hospital and subsequently could not pay for the treatment. Can your center help in this case?
- In each case, we understand the situation and contact the Community Welfare Officer of the region or region where our client lives and whether this address is valid. In order to receive social assistance in order to pay for treatment in the hospital, it is very important to confirm your accommodation, otherwise this confusion between departments can last for weeks and the client suffers. We had a lot of similar cases and, therefore, I would especially like to clarify this issue - be truthful and attentive when you name your legal address of your actual residence in Ireland.
Well-known throughout the world O'Connell street - ''the heart'' of Dublin
- Deirdre, not immediately and not everyone can orient themselves in a new environment, even having already started working in Ireland. Could you tell us about the unpleasant incidents that occurred with your clients, and how you help in such situations?
- I am pleased to share our experience here. One of our Latvian clients discovered that someone used his PPS No when he received a notice from the Tax Office. He tried to figure it out on his own, but sometimes this prevents the language barrier from being made. We contacted many officials at the Tax Office, Dept. of Social Affairs and Family Affairs, Fraud Investigations and ultimately solved his problem. Using your PPS No, accessing your email or bank account, stealing a credit card - nobody is insured against this type of fraud today. Of course, we all need to be careful with such information even among acquaintances, but if a misfortune has happened, we try to help by attracting those people who are responsible for solving the problem of our client.
The bridges of Dublin
Another unfortunate incident occurred with a Russian girl 2 years ago when she arrived in Dublin. Renting an apartment, she owed her friends, because for a long time he could not find a job. She turned to us in the center in a state of deep depression and despair. With a refugee status in English, refugee, she could count on paying for housing and receiving social assistance until she found a job. The language barrier hampered her communication and job searches. The girl was primarily sent to English courses and then her situation improved. People with refugee status are equal in their rights to Irish citizens.
- Suppose everything is all right with the work, but people associate their future with Ireland and want to get an education here.
- If you have lived in Ireland for at least one academic year - from October to next October - you can contact us at the center for advice on obtaining a grant for education.
--What other questions do people address to the center?
-You can’t even imagine what problems people came to our country are not turning to just such centers ... It’s just impossible to list everything in our short conversation, but I want to say, whatever trouble happens to you, you are always a welcome guest our center and you can always help here. “And ultimately we help, because all the necessary official doors are open to us and we are provided with practically any information to solve our questions in order to help our clients. Since 1999, life in our country has changed very much, Ireland has been inhabited by people of different nationalities, and therefore today we have employees who know several of the most popular languages among immigrants, including our lawyers. In a pinch, the state will always help provide an interpreter. Someone asks to find the birth certificate lost in London, complain about poor service at the airport or the local Health Service, who comes to the center after a quarrel with the boss, in tears, and asking for legal advice, or parents of different nationalities who divorce cannot “divide” a child .. It is necessary to say that the help of our lawyers is very, very much in demand. With people through inexperience or ignorance, sometimes absolutely anecdotal cases occur, and in order not to become a “victim” of fraudsters, or not to get into an unpleasant situation, come in advance and consult our center.
Near Dublin's harbour
--How do people find out about CCCIS?
--You asked a very important question. We constantly hold presentations of our center at forums, conferences and meetings with EU citizens in the Communities existing in Dublin and its surroundings. Looking back, we see that a lot has been done over the 17 years of our center’s work for the needs of people, but how much remains to be done, taking into account.
We constantly conduct trainings for our employees on all issues with which people come to the center. Life shows that 68% of people learned about our center from those who had already visited us once - this is the effect of feedback. FAS employees are talking about us, and since 2005, a group of volunteers has been helping to spread information about our center, in particular.
Even to those who are new to Ireland, it will be easy to find the City Center on O’Connell, everyone knows the main street of Dublin. On a fine day, being in the center, do not be lazy to look into the CCCIS. On the stands in the office of the center you can take booklets and brochures on all important issues relating to the rights, duties and opportunities of those who came to Ireland from other states; armed with useful information in advance, you yourself will help in many ways, preventing some unpleasant moments. I am not a pessimist because of my nature, but having worked as a translator in courts, police stations and hospitals in Dublin, I witnessed really well the most unusual cases that happened to visitors and already residents of Ireland, therefore I also advise you to take note of the existence of such centers in Ireland and find the time and come in and ask all of your interesting questions for her, so that you do not end up either in the courtroom or in the hospital, or not be expelled from this country at all. This, unfortunately, also happens.
Dublin, the city centre
From myself I would like to add that the doors of such centers are always open throughout Ireland for all who wish to receive advice or help in the most extraordinary life situation if you are powerless to change your new life for the better in a foreign country and find yourself here without family, friends, and acquaintances. And these are not just beautiful words.
City Centre Citizens Information Service, Dublin 1, 13a O’Connell st.
тел. 01 809 06 33/ 01 809 06 04.
City Centre North-West Information Service: Dublin 7, 1 Green st,
тел. 01 865 62 30
The team of the CCCIS - you are welcome!