The Refugees and Newcomers Emotional Wellness (ReNEW) program is a Calgary Foundation-funded project that provides access to emotional support and professional counselling to recently arrived refugees and newcomers. Clients and walk-in participants can discreetly inform program staff of the need for emotional support and will be assisted with either one-on-one consultation or arrangements to see a professional counsellor.
Newly arrived refugees, many of whom are hosted at the Calgary Immigrant Educational Society (CIES), often come from places of conflict and high trauma. Much effort has been focused on the resources and services that are aimed at ensuring their smooth integration into Canada, such as language training, employment training, affordable housing, and other social supports. However, resources providing for their emotional wellness, the psychological effects of having come from conflict zones and the experience of being a refugee for an extended period of time have been limited. CIES receives many requests for counselling per month from its clients, a large proportion of whom are recently arrived refugees. The issues raised often include stress from financial issues, alcoholism, complaints of abuse from women, psychological abuse, and family issues. With a recent influx of refugees into Calgary, and with a growing commitment by the municipal, provincial and federal governments for their resettlement, the frequency of issues relating to mental health at CIES are expected to at least be sustained, if not increase over the coming year.
With the help of projects such as ReNEW, refugee and newcomer families from CIES can live more secure lives as support and counselling can allow them to be more resilient to the challenges they face in resettling in Calgary. Successful adjustment to the new community in the first year is critical in determining the overall success of newcomer and refugee resettlement, and emotional support plays a crucial role in this adjustment. As this type of support is currently of limited availability for newcomers in the community, its establishment as a new service for CIES’ approximately 1400 students can make a significant overall difference in the quality of life for entire families settling in Calgary.
Watch this space for further updates to the ReNEW program, including schedule and location information. Attached: Dr. Cesar Suva signs the grant generously bequeathed by the Calgary Foundation.