Will the DOORS team help with day to day support of refugees whom we have sponsored?

The day-to-day support of the newcomers is the responsibility of the sponsorship group, with help from many local services and organizations. DOORS team can provide advice but isn’t able to help with daily responsibilities, such as drives to the dentist or other medical appointments.

Are there local groups or organizations in Kingston that can help sponsors and refugees/newcomers?

Kingston and area has excellent resources to support sponsorship groups and refugees. The most valuable and comprehensive support is Immigration Services for Kingston and Area (ISKA). ISKA provides a one-stop solution to the primary health care and settlement needs of refugees. Contact ISKA at 613.544.4661 or settlement office Gaitree Orgah gaitreeo@kchc.ca. One of the first visits that you can make with newly arrived refugees is to ISKA to meet with settlement officers there. For example, here newcomers will be evaluated for placement in language class. There are also offices in Belleville for the Quinte region and in Brockville for the Leeds-Grenville area.

Kingston and area Employment Services or KEYS: Staff in the five KEYS office in our area will help newcomers write resumes that can be used for volunteer or employment opportunities, connect newcomers with employers, facilitate training and education, and facilitate funding for credentials and apprenticeship.

United Way: United Way provides some funding for refugees, including dental, and provides volunteers to assist. The website has links to application forms. ISKA currently connects sponsors with United Way volunteers: contact ISKA for this service.

How will newcomers travel within Kingston and area? Will they be expected to travel on their own? Do they have access to subsidized buses?

In the first weeks and perhaps months, accompanying newcomers to appointments is an important responsibility of the sponsors. This will provide much needed support. Refugees and newcomers are also eligible for “affordable transit passes”. Once newcomers are more comfortable and acquire greater ease in navigating the bus and their new area, it is not as important to accompany them to all appointments.

How can we find help with translation?

This depends on why you need the translation. If for general conversational and organizing purposes, ISKA has translators who can assist. ISKA can also send off official documents (driving licenses, e.g.) for translation for a modest fee.

For appointments that require confidentiality and professionalism, you can access Central Eastern Ontario Translation and Interpretation Services CEOTIS 1-888-968-1065. ceotis@quinteimmigration.ca. CEOTIS provides face to face interpretation ($55/hr with 2 hr minimum and additional travel costs) or telephone interpretation ($55/hr, with a 1 hr minimum). They also provide translation services.

The Kingston hospitals have a contract for a telephone translation service based in California which does not require pre-booking. Health Care providers should provide newcomers with translation, often through telephone translation. Indicate this need when the appointment is made. For French translation, see the local Francophone employment organization that provides services to French speaking newcomers: ACFOMI http://acfomi.ca/en/.

Is it possible to find subsidized accommodation in Kingston for refugees?

Yes, many local property managers have provided discounted rent for newcomers for the first year. ISKA is an excellent resource for help with finding housing.

Our sponsorship group is quite small and we need extra help from more volunteers. How do we find additional help in Kingston and area to support our work?

ISKA manages a list of individuals who have volunteered via United Way to help with refugee settlement. They will send out an email on your behalf to this list of volunteers. Keep in mind that this list contains volunteers who may not have received Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) check. It is important that all volunteers working with vulnerable sectors, including refugees, receive a CPIC check. CPIC checks can be easily and quickly obtained at the Kingston Police Station, 705 Division Street.

How long are the sponsors expected to take a very active role in the day to day life of the family (visiting the family daily, driving them to appointments and activities, or providing childcare)?

Frequent and extensive support is very important in the very early weeks and months of settlement but the extent of sponsor involvement should lighten or diminish as the months go on. From the beginning of the sponsorship, it is important to encourage independence and to respect the autonomy and agency of the newcomers. It can be challenging to get the balance right, and it is important for sponsors and the newcomers to communicate with each other about expectations.

The RTSP handbook says one of the primary goals of sponsors is to “Help Newcomers Work Towards Self-Sufficiency: The core of self-sufficiency is that people are able to make their own plans and decisions in order to attain their own dreams. When a group sponsors refugees, this can be a delicate balance to maintain. Out of a desire to help, groups may do for rather than do with newcomers, reducing the newcomers’ learning opportunities—and eventually, their chances to survive independently in Canada. Independence does not imply that the refugee will sever ties with your group (though this possibility must also be allowed for). You may remain life-long friends, but your help should always be given with the goal of self-sufficiency.”