Newcomers and volunteers working together to build more welcoming communities.
Nicholas Keung of the Toronto Star interviews Together Project’s co-directors and match participants on why it is so important for volunteers to offer remote social support in response to COVID-19. “Maintaining social contact is a major challenge for all, but newcomers, particularly refugees, are among the most vulnerable. We want to ensure they have access to accurate information and social connection.” Read more here.
Please see our new COVID-19 Resources page for information on how to offer remote social support to vulnerable newcomers while maintaining social distance and updates on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, especially in relation to Together Project’s Welcome Group program.
Topics may include tips on what social distancing looks like in a Welcome Group match, steps that all levels of government are taking to protect residents, suggestions about how to keep kids and adults engaged while staying at home, and anticipated changes in access to refugee services. Read more here.
At the beginning of the year, we launched a new volunteer outreach campaign called “25 in 2020.” Our goal was to engage volunteers from each of Toronto’s 25 wards and we have officially met this goal in just three months! We are also reaching volunteers in 9 of the 11 wards in Peel Region. We would like to thank the 10 city councillors and executive assistants we have met with, who have helped us raise awareness and encourage volunteers to get involved in building more welcoming communities. These councillors are: Councillor Carroll, Ford, Holyday, Layton, Karygiannis, Matlow, Nunziata, Perruzza, Robinson, and Wong-Tam. Thank you also to the Toronto Foundation for your communications support! Stay tuned as we continue to expand our volunteer reach across Toronto and Mississauga!
As a former newcomer to Canada, originally from Syria, I still feel all of the challenges newcomers go through. My family and I suffered a lot, especially when we first arrived. Although I didn’t have the language barrier and although I arrived as a skilled immigrant, it was extremely difficult to find our way. We went through a very hard time. Because of these challenges, I work and volunteer to ensure that other newcomers have a better experience than mine. I volunteered at many different places and then my volunteer position at ACCT turned into full time employment.
I believe in Together Project’s work and that’s why I got more involved. Through the Welcome Group program, volunteers have an inside look at the newcomer experience. They get to know another culture’s perspective and way of thinking and this helps expand the volunteers’ world view. The newcomers have a chance to learn about Canada not from a book but from real Canadians who build their understanding of this country one experience at a time. This is what I love most about Canada; the culture of accepting others and welcoming them. I call this, “The Canadian Dream.”
Having done a lot of work from the perspective of new citizens who have been in Canada for a number of years, I’m interested in the experience of people who have just arrived. The days of waiting a generation for an immigrant or refugee to feel a sense of belonging are over. These days, we need methods and means that really accelerate integration and inclusion. There are huge benefits for Canadians to participate in programs like the Welcome Group program. There is something so tangible and empowering about making a difference in the lives of people you come to know well. The responsibility of making people feel like they belong is no longer left just to arrivals but it is also the responsibility of the receiving community, whether that is a community of corporate volunteers, a sports team, a faith group or a group of neighbours and friends. Read moreRead More
Dr. Juanne Nancarrow Clarke, professor of anthropology and sociology at Wilfred Laurier University, and Taylor Marlow, M.A. graduate in sociology, have just published new research on the needs, challenges, and best practices in refugee sponsorship and resettlement in Canada. Their research found an “outpouring of care, commitment and organizing [which] demonstrates the potential capacity of volunteers to fill gaps in the Government and community services available for newcomers in Canada.” One of their five examples of innovative approaches in the sector was Together Project’s Welcome Group Model. The researchers say Together Project “demonstrates the creative ways that the private sponsorship approach (connecting citizens with refugees during initial resettlement) can be effectively adapted to other streams of newcomers.” Read more of their findings here: http://bit.ly/2RELGPD