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Welcome House Centre sets new standard in refugee services

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The Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSofBC) has been at the forefront of Canadian service providers helping refugees from some of the world’s worst trouble spots. Now, the society is setting a new world standard in refugee settlement services with a unique, fully integrated facility for newly arrived refugees: Welcome House Centre.

The planned Vancouver facility will have 200 beds of first-stage and second-stage housing, a child care centre, a youth centre, a medical clinic, education services, trauma support, government offices and a Vancity banking kiosk at which refugees will be able to open bank accounts, in some cases for the first time. Since many refugees come from non-cash economies, Vancity will also provide on-site workshops on financial literacy. With a commitment to financial literacy that meets members where they are, Vancity employees trained in Each One, Teach One workshop delivery will provide culturally sensitive workshops on site, and it was this opportunity that prompted Vancity to grant $1 million toward the new centre, with an additional $200,000 pre-development loan.

The new Welcome House is slated to open in Spring 2016. “When it's completed, we will have defined a new international model of support for refugee newcomers worldwide,” says Chris Friesen, The Immigrant Services Society of BC director of settlement services, “and Vancity is in on the ground floor.”