Grant Update – Refugee Support
When Kingston was preparing to welcome numerous Syrian refugees in 2015-16, the Community Foundation for Kingston & Area was one of the first funders to table to assist: providing a grant of $5,000 to support the Kingston Immigration Partnership (KIP) which was taking a lead role in refugee support coordination. Here is their report to us on what the funds helped them accomplish.
The Refugee support coordination
After the Canadian Government made the commitment to welcome more refugees to Canada in November 2015, Kingston also started to see an increase in refugees arriving to our city. At this point in time all refugees were Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSR’s), sponsored by various community groups, at its peak Kingston had 15 different groups working on supporting PSR families.
KIP, as an integrated planning table with many of the essential service providers for newcomers in their first days, weeks and months of arrival, took on the leadership role to better coordinate collaboration and consistency between the various agencies providing settlement support to immigrants.
We initiated a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) group and a Refugee Support Network (RSN). The SAH group met monthly and enabled the various sponsorship groups to share opportunities and concerns, learn from each other and prevent duplication. The RSN network is a group of service providers that initially met weekly and after that met (and still meets) monthly to problem solve, collaborate and plan together to better and more efficiently and consistently support the new families with their settlement in the community.
Without any additional funding these groups and all the additional activities coming out of these initiatives were managed on ‘the side of the desk’ of other KIP staff. With support of CFKA we were able to create a new temporary position coordinating these two groups and build a stronger foundation responding to the needs of this group of newcomers in Kingston.
How the funds were used
The $5,000 was used solely to hire additional staff capacity (Refugee Support and community liaison). We were able to hire this person for 200 hours over the course of January-March 2016. The support from CFKA also sparked other agencies and businesses to provide financial support to allow us to keep the part time role in place until the summer of 2016 enabling us to build a more robust system to respond the various inquiries from the groups and build it into the core business of staff members of KIP and the KCHC Immigrant Services team.
Impact on the community and refugee families
Through the support of the refugee liaison officer we were able to accomplish the following:
– initiating and supporting the Refugee Support Network and the Sponsorship Agreement Holders group
– multiple educational sessions and info sharing meetings for private sponsorship coordinators and service providers focusing on topics such as mental health, culture, volunteer management, managing finances and legal aspects
– creation of a closed Facebook group and an email list serve for sponsorship groups to share information and questions
– creation of a resource guide for sponsorship coordinators and service providers
– coordination of training eight certifies Arabic speakers in the local community and training of 30 volunteer interpreters
Through the support we have been able to work together as a community and created a strong and well connected group of community members and service providers ready to welcome these new members of our community.
By: Staff at Kingston Immigration Partnership