Metro Vancouver leaders are getting ready to welcome the largest influx of refugees in the province’s history, but their optimism at helping those fleeing war-torn Syria is being met with concern about the availability of resources in areas such as housing and mental health.
– Globe and Mail, 11 Nov 2015
If you’ve got a spare room or an empty basement suite, the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. wants to hear from you.
With as many as 3,000 Syrian refugees poised to arrive in B.C. before the end of the year, the organization is “bracing” for the “largest refugee influx in the history of the province,” said Chris Friesen, director of settlement services for ISSBC. Although settling the refugees will be challenging, Friesen called it a “bold, humanitarian measure” by the new federal government.
“Securing permanent housing (for the refugees) will be impossible without your help,” Friesen said in his call to the public for action. “We need to turn over every rock in this province to find the housing that will be necessary.”
A sign-up website is now live and has already collected 61 housing offers, 90 volunteer offers and three employment leads, but many, many more are needed, Friesen said.
“It’s an indication of the overwhelming support British Columbians want to provide,” Friesen said.
Volunteers are needed to help the refugees settle in, including things such as taking families to the library or speaking English with them for as little as a few hours a week. They’re particularly looking for trauma counsellors to volunteer their time, because about one-third of the refugees are expected to have post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Syrian refugees are expected to settle mostly in Surrey, Coquitlam, Burnaby, New Westminster and Vancouver, although some Syrian refugees who have already arrived are living in Delta and Richmond, Friesen said.
– Vancouver Sun, 11 Nov 2015