First Contact helps refugee claimants resettle with ease

Topics: Migrant and Refugee Services
September 14, 2012

First Contact helps refugee claimants resettle with ease

Among the challenges faced by migrants and refugees, taking the first few steps toward finding protection in another country can be the most daunting. As the country's leading non-profit organization, the Canadian Red Cross helps individuals overcome obstacles and build resiliency through migrant and refugee services.

First Contact was established in Toronto in 2001 and in Vancouver in 2008. The program provides emergency services and resources when people need them most. First Contact assists refugee claimants in the early challenges they may face by providing much-needed information and support through the distribution of information kits and a 24/7 multilingual phone service, which is operated by over 100 trained Red Cross volunteers.

Many refugee claimants arrive into Canada with little or no knowledge of the legal claims process. They also face difficulties in learning how to navigate the public transportation system as well as the refugee serving agencies that are present in the country to assist them. First Contact helps to bridge that gap by providing important information on settlement, paralegal, health, agency referral, transportation, food, clothing and emergency services when required.

In Vancouver, First Contact has assisted more than 1,500 individuals in just three years of service. Refugee claimants from 86 different countries, speaking 72 distinct languages, were able to quickly gain access to services through First Contact, as well as other Canadian Red Cross programs. 

From the outset, refugee claimants face many obstacles.  Are you interested in supporting this crucial program?  By volunteering on the Multilingual Information and Referral phone line – which is open to refugee claimants 24/7 – you can help vulnerable refugee claimants gain access to the vital services and assistance they need.

You can also show your support by choosing to donate online or at your local Canadian Red Cross office today. To learn more about this program and other ways that you can assist refugee claimants through the First Contact program, please visit our website.

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