Vale Pakistan Advice Centre
by Rob Smith
On hearing rumours of complaints about the centre, which
the centre believed to be malicious, my colleague Gaby Spinks and
I went along to find out what was really going on.
Situated at 58 Owler Lane, the centre boasts a long history and
large membership which we found were all well recorded. Entering
the advice centre we were greeted warmly by the project management
who, aware of our arrival, were on hand to show us the facilities
and service they provide to this community. A large map of the Muslim
world on a far wall was surrounded by many pamphlets and leaflets
with information concerning jobs, benefits, equal rights and more.
People had already begun to queue for the use of their multilingual
advice service whose reputation has taken a bit of a knock. Gulnaz
Hussain explained to us that their confidentiality policy cannot
be compromised and can offer the service in five different languages.
“We have access to Pushtu, Pathan, Arabic, Somali
and English, we also have a long history of over one hundred and
seventy members that began over eleven years ago, and was started
by our first generation of local elders, belonging to the Pakistani
community around Fir Vale.”
She continued explaining the free services they provide, catering
for over 4,000 enquiries that are made every year. “Immigration
and nationality issues, housing information, labour market, jobs
advice, training and information, on council services, public meetings
As Gaby and I were shown further round the centre we observed three
private sectioned-off spaces, in which an elderly Asian gentleman
was receiving assistance concerning social security issues. I later
spoke to Mohammed Ali of the Somali community, who having spent
many months working as a young ILM worker, spoke very highly of
the Pakistan Advice Centre and the amount of work they do there.
This is Rob Smith reporting that all national and local quality
standards as well as accreditation, seem to have been fully recognised
and met by those who provide this essential service, for the people
of both Fir Vale and Burngreave.