Police are helping to break down language barriers for migrants in Spalding by teaching non-English speakers about the UK’s 999 emergency number.
PCSO Tracey Abbott normally takes the police ICE (in case of emergency) cards to schools but decided they were just the job for people learning English at a five-week course at St Mary and St Nicolas Church.
The Vicar of Spalding, the Rev John Bennett, said several of the people attending didn’t know they should ring 999 to get help in an emergency, so it was an important message to get across.
He said: “The cards list the questions that will be asked by the operator. By having them, people will know what to expect and can write their answers down and so have them ready.
“It means that they will get the help they need much quicker because they will be prepared.
“One of two of them said they would have dialled 112 (the pan-European emergency number) but I think they were pleased to have the questions they would be asked because that means they will have a chance to prepare.
“I was in a way surprised that people didn’t know about calling 999 in an emergency but the thing is emergencies don’t happen all of the time so I suppose you don’t think about it until it happens.”
Sector police inspector Gareth Boxall said: “Our Neighbourhood Policing Teams do a lot of work with primary schools which includes teaching them how to use the 999 system properly.
“We are always looking for more opportunities to provide that information to those, such as members of the Eastern European communities who might not already know. This is an excellent example of such an opportunity.”
English conversation lessons are being held at lunchtimes at the church until August 25, with a team of volunteers, including school teachers and people qualified to teach English as a foreign language, working with migrants.
“The Full English” lessons are an off-shoot of the Community Connectors project, which aims to bring Spalding’s settled and migrant communities closer together.
Mr Bennett says some Latvians and Lithuanians, for example, are used to speaking in a common language, but that’s usually Russian on the factory floor, and at night watch satellite TV programmes in their own language.
The Polish Help Centre in Spalding has agreed to spread the 999 message further by sharing information with its contacts.
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