The help of a well-informed, enthusiastic volunteer is always needed and appreciated. If you would like to lend a hand, here is where to start.
What should I consider before signing up?
Before you start to look for a volunteer opportunity, take some time to consider the type of role you’re looking for.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- How much time do I want to commit per week? Per month?
- When do I have time to volunteer? Am I available during the day, evenings, or on weekends?
- Do I want to do a short-term project or take on an ongoing role?
- Do I want to be in a front-line position where I can interact directly with refugees, or do I want to take on a coordination position on a committee or a board?,
- Am I comfortable working with refugees in the community or in their homes?
- What professional skills or cultural experiences do I have to offer?
- Do I understand or speak the languages that are spoken by the refugees?
- Do I have experience in providing mental health counselling, especially to PTSD patients?
What is the process to volunteer?
Each organization will have a slightly different intake and onboarding process. Generally, you can expect the following steps:
- Fill out a volunteer application for a specific position.
- A formal sit-down interview or an informal discussion about how you will fit into the organization.
- Completing a Criminal Records Check and/or Child Intervention Check.
- Providing 2-3 references.
- Attending a volunteer orientation and/or training session.
Why haven’t I heard back?
Each year, Alberta’s settlement and integration sector works diligently to resettle more than 2,000 refugees, and about 40,000 immigrants. Due to this effort many organizations operate at full capacity throughout the year. New volunteers and community support are often recruited on an as needed basis.
If you don’t hear from an organization for a couple weeks after applying, follow up with them. Do keep in mind that some organizations only recruit during certain times of the year, so you may not hear back from them for several months. It’s important to do your research before hand, have patience, and apply to multiple organizations to increase your chances of getting involved.
Where to Volunteer
Once you have a clear idea of what kind of volunteer role would be a good fit for you, it’s time to find an organization to volunteer with. For working with specifically refugees, we recommend looking in this order:
- Current AAISA Members with the Resettlement Assistance Program:
- Catholic Social Services (Edmonton & Red Deer)
- Calgary Catholic Immigration Society
- Brooks & County Immigration Services (Contact )
- Lethbridge Family Services – Immigrant Services
- Saamis Immigration Services Association (Medicine Hat)
- Organizations recommended by the Government of Canada
- Your local volunteer centre
- Social Service Organizations eg. Foodbanks, Shelters, Women’s Programs
- Religious Institutions eg. Church, Mosque, Temple
- Ethno-cultural Communities and their initiatives eg. Syrian Refugee Support Group
A brief collection of stories showcasing how community members have successfully mobilized to respond to the influx of Syrian refugees
Aug. 22, 2016 Calgary volunteers get Syrian refugees cycling safely
May 21, 2016 Volunteers aim to help Syrian refugees
Dec. 20, 2015 Volunteers fill donated Calgary warehouse with items for Syrian refugees
Dec. 19, 2015 Refugee volunteers given crash course in Arabic
Oct. 6, 2015 Calgary’s Ariam Wolde-Giorgis to talk about building community connections at immigrant fair