Escaping a harsh reality is just the first step in a long journey for the 25,000 Syrian refugees resettling in Canada over the upcoming months. As refugees arrive here from Syria they will need a network of services to help them build new lives and a better future.

Successful resettlement for the Syrian refugees will include access to housing, employment, education, health care and counselling services as they become accustomed to a new culture. As part of a caring community that continually responds to assist vulnerable people, United Way Greater Victoria believes citizens in the CRD can lift these individuals and families out of despair and offer hope.

Since the federal government first announced its plan to welcome Syrian refugees, United Ways across Canada have been focused on areas where our sector must engage: resettlement, integration and inclusion. On a local scale, United Way Greater Victoria has been active in supporting charitable organizations delivering frontline services to immigrants and refugees for 30 years and will continue to support these critical services going forward.

“Throughout our fall campaign we have received donations for the resettlement of refugees into Greater Victoria. As the number of inquires have increased, we are focused on letting citizens know United Way is raising funds and collecting donations to support resettlement services that will be distributed to various programs to address the immediate and long-term needs of the Syrian refugees. We will work on getting the resources to where they are needed most and where they will have the greatest impact,” says Patricia Jelinski, CEO at United Way.

Since 1986, United Way has funded partners such as the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA) to help immigrants, newcomers and refugees settle into their new community and learn the language and culture, while offering long-term support in essentials such as education and employment. United Way currently funds a program dedicated to building the capacity of businesses, community groups and agencies to better serve refugees and immigrants.

Moving forward, United Way will continue to lead in funding a network of services that support our most vulnerable citizens and is looking to support ICA in building collaborative programs to work strategically across sectors to ensure that resettled refugees receive streamlined services that help them successfully integrate into our community.

“United Way Greater Victoria has been a funder of our services for many years and in this time of need we continue to partner with United Way in our efforts to welcome Syrian and other refugees into our community, provide support for resettlement services and to ensure these individuals and families can build a better future,” says Jean McRae, Executive Director at ICA.

Donations to United Way are accepted at workplaces, United Way’s office at 1144 Fort Street, via phone 250-385-6708 or online at uwgv.ca. Contributions will help Syrian refugees with:

  • Counselling – everything from advice on how to use public transit, obtain health care, visit the grocery store, and get children signed up for school
  • Pre-employment supports assessing their skills and readying them to enter the job market
  • Employment supports including job training and connecting them with opportunities
  • Mental health support to help them recover from trauma they’ve faced
  • English language training

FROM THE NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL UNITED WAY MOVEMENT:

As the largest non-government provider of social services in Canada, United Ways across the country are doing their part to ensure that refugees who come to Canada get the best start in their new life. To date United Ways are:

  • Undertaking special appeals for the additional funding that will be required to strengthen current community service delivery;
  • Opening up 211, an award-winning telephone help line (2-1-1) and website (www.211.ca) to help refugees and newcomers find housing, language training, skills development and other supports required to build productive lives in Canada;
  • Acting as catalysts, conveners or participants for community tables coordinating settlement and community services, donation management and public education.

On the global front, United Way Centraide Canada has joined an international taskforce with United Way Worldwide focused on developing future United Way refugee landing and integration programs in European cities led by United Way Tocqueville France in Paris.

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For more information, please contact:

Patricia Jelinski, CEO, United Way Greater Victoria

Work: (250) 220-7364 Cell: (250) 217-8698

Email:  patricia.jelinski@uwgv.ca