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Support for Portuguese

PUBLISHED: 13:27 23 January 2008 | UPDATED: 10:45 08 July 2010

Portuguese residents in Norfolk will be offered increased support as two consular-style offices are to open in the county next month.

The centres, at Swaffham and Watton, will help the community deal with administrative and legal matters locally rather than have to approach the Portuguese Consulate in London.

Portuguese residents in Norfolk will be offered increased support as two consular-style offices are to open in the county next month.

The centres, at Swaffham and Watton, will help the community deal with administrative and legal matters locally rather than have to approach the Portuguese Consulate in London.

The two offices will also offer advice on housing, transport and education to Portuguese nationals living in the county.

Joe Barreto, a member of the community and one of the representatives of the consulate in the county, said the aim of the two centres was to support incoming residents as well as raise the profile of the existing community.

“The Portuguese Consulate in London has also offered two teachers who will be helping children with the learning of both English and Portuguese,” he said.

“We are looking to help people with every single problem they might have. These are problems that migrants might be faced with once they arrive in Britain. And I mean here jobs, housing, education, health, transport and personal advice. The two centres which will be inaugurated by the Portuguese consul, Mr Miguel Pires, will help them to sort out several consular matters which until now had to be done in London. This can be done online with our help. The inauguration will also be attended by members of the local community, and the director of one of the largest Portuguese banks. We do not have a date yet, but will release it as soon as we have some confirmation from London.”

However, Mr Barreto said that for more complicated issues, Portuguese nationals would still have to approach the London-based service.

The launch of the two offices at the beginning of February will also coincide with the official inauguration of a trilingual news sheet - The Gossip - issued by English, Portuguese and Polish volunteers.

The free publication, currently in circulation in Swaffham, Dereham, Watton, Thetford and Brandon, includes community information, practical titbits and mini language lessons in English, Portuguese and Polish.

The bimonthly sheet was initially launched in English and Portuguese in November.

“Recently we enlisted the help of the Polish community to produce an extra sheet for their members.

“At the beginning we had three people working on it and their number will now extend to six once we add the extra sheet. These are all volunteers, as everything we are doing comes from our hearts and pockets rather than financial support from anywhere,” Mr Barreto said.

He added: “We have also been approached by members of the Portuguese community in Liverpool and Manchester who are interested to work with us, in the sense that we are going to produce a similar newspaper for them containing their local information.”

It is estimated that more than 50,000 Portuguese nationals live in Norfolk.

“The Portuguese community in this county is one of the largest in the UK. Members move from town to town once they arrive here,” said Mr Barreto.

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