For the last six months or so, I have been volunteering at the Refugee and Immigrant Advisory Council in St John’s, Newfoundland. RIAC offers support for newcomers to the province and helps them to feel part of the community here. Newfoundland is pretty much 95% white, barely even has French as a second language and the climate is of the cold, damp variety. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for refugees and immigrants with little to no English, particularly those who move here from warmer countries.
The main services that RIAC provides are :
1) Free advice and guidance for people who are struggling with the immigration system and/or any other bureaucratic difficulties involving work permits, medical exams etc.
2) Free English classes three times a week for anyone who feels they need extra help with their English.
There is another organisation here that provides free ESL classes for refugees – but they don’t offer services for other types of immigrants e.g. the spouses of international students or people who have not yet received full refugee status. In addition, the Association for New Canadians (ANC) is affiliated with the government and is thus restricted in the amount of support it can give regarding the immigration process. This is why RIAC’s services are needed – for all those people who don’t quite fit the criteria and fall through the gaps of official services.
RIAC recently lost its main source of private funding and they are now in desperate need of a couple of thousand dollars to last them until their next lot of government funding and major grants comes in. If they don’t get this funding, they may have to close their doors. RIAC serves about 900 people a year through its various projects and programs – there is currently nowhere else for these people to turn for support.
I know it is a very, very long shot, but if anyone reads this blogpost and happens to have a few dollars/pounds/whatever to spare, please consider making a donation to RIAC. I know that many people do not have the financial capacity to be donating money to random causes, but on the offchance there is someone out there who can, it would be really, really appreciated. Retweets of this blogpost with the #saveRIAC hashtag would also be amazing.
P.S. The total amount donated so far is actually higher than that mentioned on the above website because some people made offline donations. The true total is now over $8,000, so we are not as far off as it seems!