What are the five things that migrants and refugees can gain from the Canadian Red Cross' First Contact program?

Topics: National, Migrant and Refugee Services
January 22, 2013

What are the five things that migrants and refugees can gain from the Canadian Red Cross' First Contact program?

When migrants and refugees arrive in the country, they face many obstacles, but with help from the Canadian Red Cross - the country's leading non-profit organization - those in need are able to start navigating their lives in Canada.

First Contact, which is offered in Toronto and Vancouver, is a program run by the Canadian Red Cross that helps refugees gain resources, knowledge and referrals to settlement agencies.

The following are the top five things that migrants and refugees can receive from the First Contact program.

1. Access to a 24/7 hotline.
By accessing migrant and refugee services like First Contact's 24/7 hotline, newcomers to the country can gain immediate information and assistance. Migrants and refugees in Toronto can call (416) 771-9540 or dial toll free at 1-866-902-4996 to find out more information about the refugee process and how First Contact Program can help. In Vancouver, the First Contact services can be accessed through the following number (604) 787-8858 or dial toll free 1-866-771-8858.

2. Information on housing and emergency shelters.
Through First Contact, refugee claimants can gain greater knowledge of how to find accommodations in the region. First Contact also provides refugee claimants who arrive to Toronto with referrals to emergency shelters. This service is provided 24 hours/7 days a week.

3. Assistance obtaining health, paralegal, transportation, government support services and other vital refugee related information.
At the Vancouver branch of First Contact, the Canadian Red Cross has helped more than 1,300 individuals from 86 countries speaking 72 different languages. In Ontario, over the last decade, the First Contact Program has assisted more than 15,000 individuals. Those in need who have benefited from First Contact have gained access to health and paralegal services, as well as food and clothing.

4. Emergency services for up to 72 hours and support to vulnerable groups.
While migrants and refugees claimants are strong and resilient, the Canadian Red Cross plays an important role in helping ease their transition into the country.

5. Access to a drop-in center.
First Contact in Toronto offers refugee claimants access to a drop-in center where they can make local phone calls, use the internet and learn more about services offered in the area.

First Contact services are available in several languages, including English, Spanish, Mandarin, Punjabi, Farsi and French. To learn more about the program, you can visit us online, reach out to a local Canadian Red Cross office.

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