Volunteers and Sponsors: A Catalyst for Refugee Integration?
Refugee programs in North America and Europe are often overstretched in terms of resources and staff time. For example, the government-assisted refugee program in Toronto averages a caseload of 70 families per case worker. In the report Volunteers and Sponsors: A Catalyst for Refugee Integration? from the Migration Policy Institute’s Transatlantic Council on Migration, community members are highlighted as an invaluable supplement to the services that professional agencies provide. In particular, the authors examine how volunteers and sponsors have the unique ability to carry out specific tasks that professional agencies may not have the time or expertise to deliver, such as offering free driving lessons or navigating the housing market. Although drawing on community members can be transformative to refugee integration, the author also recognizes that volunteerism can also hinder integration if training and ongoing support are not provided. Policymakers are thus seen as the crucial link to sustaining the role of volunteer initiatives as they can provide critical funding and resources to manage volunteer programs. The author suggests the support of policymakers is key to increasing refugees’ access to individualized support, which in turn can lead to improved integration outcomes for both the refugees and community as a whole. (Stephanie DePauw for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Fratzke, S., & Dorst, E. (2019, November). Volunteers and sponsors: A catalyst for refugee integration? Retrieved from the Migration Policy Institute website: https://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/volunteers-sponsors-refugee-integration