SAFSS has assisted and empowered victims of domestic violence and newcomers for the last three decades. The Language Training and Skills Development program has touched the lives of newcomers from all over the world. The instructors, counsellors and the staff identify the newcomers’ needs in a timely manner, help them integrate and give them the platform to learn and improve their language skills, so that they can survive with dignity and find a path which can shape their future and be contributing members to the Canadian society.
In the last couple of years, SAFSS has served a large number of Government Assisted Refugees from Syria and Bhutan. A large number of them struggled with basic literacy skills since they lacked basic skills in their first language. The need to be literate in English (understand forms required for government services, documents related to employment, rental agreements, school notices, or a map) is intrinsically woven into the daily lives of newcomers and is embedded in a host of larger issues that the group faces, such as discrimination in housing and employment, low self-esteem, harassment on the job, and the inability to do basic things like using the public transit system. Their integration process became more complex as many of them suffered from multiple physical and mental health issues. Most suffer from trauma and deal with multiple layers of complex problems.
Settlement Assistance and Family Support Services’ language training centres become a place of solace and safety where the peer students and staff are sensitive, empathetic and non-judgemental to our newcomers’ needs and help them emerge from the darkness, empowering them with the tools to embrace a new life in Canada. To these clients, SAFSS is “Hope and a New Beginning.”