By Carla Klassen, Social Planner, Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton
Arriving in Hamilton as a newcomer to Canada can be difficult, and understanding and navigating the system of supports and services available can be confusing. Given the significant changes in services to newcomers in Hamilton over the last two years, many service providers also don’t have all the information they need to confidently refer newcomer clients.
That’s why the SPRC, along with its community partners (Workforce Planning Hamilton, Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, Community Information Hamilton, and Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council), has worked over the last year on a project to gather and share good information about the system of services to newcomers through its project, Strengthening Newcomer Services. Through networking events, focus groups, and surveys, the project team consulted with hundreds of community members, including leaders from government and agencies, frontline service providers, and newcomers.
Key findings from this project include:
- Awareness is the biggest gap.
- Information format preferences vary.
- Language is the greatest barrier.
- Discrimination is common.
- Service providers are collaborating through HIPC.
- Some find lack of one-stop shop confusing.
- Newcomers go to informal networks first.
In a series of recommendations, this report recommends that the capacity of informal networks, often the first point of contact for newcomers, be supported and strengthened in order to bridge the gaps in awareness between newcomers and formal services.
A web tool for accessing more comprehensive information about services for newcomers has been enhanced and redesigned as part of this project: www.welcometohamilton.ca.
Partners in this initiative have also produced a Quick Guide of Services for Newcomers, which will be available in 11 languages at www.welcometohamilton.ca, or in hard copy from the Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council, Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, and Community Information Hamilton.
Quick Guides are also available on the SPRC website. http://www.sprc.hamilton.on.ca/reports/
For more information, contact:
Carla Klassen, Social Planner
Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton
905.522.1148, Ext. 304, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit: Deqa Mohamud Osman