Minister of Social Affairs Ásmundur Einar Daðason opened New In Iceland today, a counselling centre for immigrants in Iceland offering services in eight languages. The goal of New in Iceland is to ensure better and more direct counselling for immigrants in order to help them feel safe and supported while living in Iceland. New in Iceland is a pilot project of the Icelandic Ministry of Social Affairs and was established as a result of a parliamentary resolution from 2019 introduced by Left-Green MP Kolbeinn Óttarsson Proppé.
The centre’s goal is to offer accessible counselling, directions, and information for immigrants on necessary services, their rights and responsibilities, helping to keep them safe, well-informed, and supported. The centre is meant to be a co-operative platform between municipal and state-run institutions; unions; and other associations working closely with the Multicultural and Information Centre, the Icelandic Human Rights Centre, the Debtors’ Ombudsman, and the Directorate of Labour. Counsellors can gather information from different institutions and facilitate connections to advance services, making it easier for immigrants to get the services they require.
The counselling centre employs five people from diverse backgrounds who are able to offer counsel in seven languages in addition to Icelandic: English, Polish, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Lithuanian, and Russian. Counsel in other languages is also available through translators and all services are free of charge and confidential. The Counseling Centre’s new website newiniceland.is is now up, where individuals can be in touch, request an interview or just chat with the counsellors.
The counselling centre is a nine-month pilot project and is up for review after six months to determine its future operations.