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How to help newly arrived refugees in your community

Wondering how you can help newly arrived refugees in your community? From donating clothing to sharing your skills and time, there are numerous ways you can make a refugee family feel welcome in their new home.

Sponsor a family

Private groups of individuals, worship groups, and community organizations are stepping up to help families from all over the world start a new life in Canada. A government sponsorship initiative matches sponsorship groups with UNHCR-selected refugees—some of the most vulnerable and in need—from overseas. Under the BVOR (Blended Visa Office-Referred) program, the government provides six months of financial support, while the private group gives an additional six months of settlement support —social, emotional and logistical.

Donate! Household goods, clothing and more

Most refugees arrive in Canada with little more than the clothes on their backs. Before donating, get in touch with a local sponsorship group to find out specific needs. That might include gently used children’s and adult’s clothing and footwear, as well as furniture, rugs, small appliances, books, and other household goods.

Refugees also desperately need accommodation, so if you have an apartment, room or house to rent, that can make a world of difference to getting a new family established in their new home.

Volunteer your skills

Refugee aid groups need your skills and time. Can you help with language lessons? Teach someone how to navigate a grocery store or cook? Offer to tutor a child with homework? Are you a health or legal professional who can help at a clinic? A financial whiz who can explain our banking system? Are you interested in doing arts and crafts or coaching kids? Or perhaps you can accompany a new family around your city, helping them to navigate transit and other everyday activities of life that we take for granted. To volunteer your time, don’t hesitate to contact a local refugee aid group.

Become a workplace mentor

One of the keys to successful refugee resettlement is stable employment. A job not only helps with financial independence, but it restores dignity and a sense of belonging. Refugee contributions also help to bolster the local economy.

Refugees are willing to learn, work hard and are loyal to employers who give them a chance. Can you offer to mentor a refugee in your field? Can you encourage your employer to hire a refugee? Or if you are self-employed, can you hire a refugee for your own company? Contact a local refugee aid organization to find out how you can help.

Educate yourself—and others

One of the best ways to help refugees is to educate ourselves—and others—about their plight. Facts—not myths or misinformation—will help to change attitudes and ease the transition for refugees who resettle in Canada.

Out of the more than 25 million refugees in 2017, only 102,800 were resettled. While Canada has an admirable refugee program, the top five refugee-hosting countries are Turkey (3.5 million), Pakistan (1.4 million), Uganda (1.4 million), Lebanon (1 million) and Iran (974,000). For more information on refugees, we encourage you to visit to explore the publications on our website.

How can you help right now?

Tell refugees your city stands with them

Your city is stronger and more connected because refugees are here, becoming colleagues, neighbours, and friends. Ask your mayor to officially stand with refugees and cities across the world by signing the UNHCR Statement of Solidarity with Refugees. Tell your city you stand #WithRefugees.

 

 

Written by Fiona Irvine-Goulet for UNHCR