Robyn Thomson was hesitant when she was approached by her local Red Cross Pathways to Employment advisor, Claire Nichols, about giving a job to one of the former refugees recently resettled in Nelson.

But Claire was convincing and the assistant manager at Palms Motel in Nelson needed a new staff member, so she decided to give the programme a go.

“I felt as though everyone should be given a chance,” says Robyn about her decision to engage with the programme which helps people from refugee backgrounds find work. 

The reason for Robyn’s hesitation was the language barrier. She’d never really worked or engaged with anyone who was still getting a grasp on the English language which made her nervous about the environment it would create in the workplace.

But Nepalese-born Anjana was the first person to be hired through the programme and blew Robyn away with how good she was. Palms Motel quickly hired another, then another, and now four of Robyn’s eight staff have been recommended through Red Cross’ Pathways to Employment.

The transition wasn’t without its challenges but Robyn refers to the women as her “rock” now and can’t imagine life without them.

She’s also helped them with their English lessons, actively encouraging them to use their lunch breaks to socialise with the staff members who speak English as a first language.

“When they first started they were nervous because they felt as though their English wasn’t very good,” she says.

“We’ve used sign language and acting in the past but we don’t have to do that anymore.”

Robyn’s also learned a lot about the Nepalese culture since hiring the staff and enjoys having a cross-cultural workplace.

“It’s been a big learning curve for them and a big learning curve for me and we’ve been doing it for the last two years and now we’re comfortable with each other.”

If you're an employer with an available position please contact out Pathways to Employment team here.