Together Project makes change in three interconnected ways: building newcomer social connections, supporting newcomer integration priorities, and amplifying community involvement in newcomer integration.
Together Project connects government-assisted refugees or refugee claimant newcomers with Canadians to build stronger, more integrated communities.
Our Welcome Group Program serves newcomers that face significant challenges to successful integration in their new communities, which often include language and culture barriers, health issues, unemployment, and a lack of social connections.
Together Project provides a platform for community engagement to address these challenges, ensuring that it both complements the work of existing service providers and is tailored to the needs of individual newcomer families.
To learn more about Together Project’s Theory of Change, please click here.
To see our 2022 Impact Report, please click here.
Getting settled in a new place is easier when you’re connected to members of your new community, and this kind of social capital can be hard to come by for refugees and newcomers.
Connected communities are happier, healthier, and more resilient. Social connections can also play an important role in newcomer health and well-being.
Together Project introduces newcomers to Welcome Groups of volunteers who can provide social support and expand the newcomers’ social networks.
“During my time with the Welcome Group, I started off thinking about the impact I hoped to make on the lives of this newcomer family. What I did not expect was how my life was about to be transformed after getting to know this incredibly intelligent, brave and compassionate family in return.” – Zein, Welcome Group Volunteer
Every newcomer family is different and faces unique challenges in integrating in their new community.
Rather than provide “one size fits all” support, Together Project uses a matching system that connects volunteers and newcomers based on shared preferences, interests, and skill sets.
The newcomer-defined integration priorities give the match a shared purpose as the newcomers and volunteers work on addressing these priorities together.
But volunteers are not service providers – they are allies, advocates, and guides who can help newcomers overcome barriers.
“Coming to Canada as a refugee claimant or a Government-Assisted Refugee means dealing with a lot of fear and uncertainty. You think you have come to a safe country but there are so many challenges, even if you speak English and are well educated. This is where the volunteers can step in and ease the newcomer’s journey.” – Hani, Steering Committee Member
Together Project helps build more welcoming communities.
We believe that volunteers represent an untapped resource in refugee integration.
We work with settlement service providers to ensure that volunteers complement but do not duplicate agency support, and have a meaningful role in supporting newcomer integration.
We see this as an opportunity for community members to take an active role in the “two-way street” of integration, and an important way to promote positive discourse and experience around newcomer integration.
“The Welcome Group Program gives volunteers the chance to participate in their community, to give back, and to learn more about different cultures and newcomer communities.” – Phil, Welcome Group Volunteer
When Simar, the Volunteer Coordinator at DIVERSEcity, matched an Afghan newcomer family with a Welcome Group, the family found ways to practice their English, nurture a young boy’s love of soccer, connect with loved ones, and more.
To find out more about this match, we interviewed Simar, our Volunteer Coordinator at DIVERSEcity, and Astrid and Ramandeep, two Welcome Group volunteers.
Check it out here!
This month, we’re seeing some changes at Together Project!
As we approach this impending transition, we want to share a few highlights.
For our blog and video, click here.
On a sunny Saturday afternoon, Together Project newcomers and volunteers attended a nature walk and a planting workshop with High Park Nature Centre!
We loved the fall colours and the opportunity to make some new friends.
Thank you to TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and to High Park Nature Centre for this memorable autumn day!
For a video, click here.
For many newcomers, practicing English is a big priority. We interviewed Rachel, a Welcome Group volunteer who has been professionally tutoring students since 2017!
To learn about Rachel’s favourite conversation topics, games, vocabulary exercises & videos, click here!
We spent a sunny afternoon touring Etobicoke’s Colonel Samuel Smith Park with Linda of the TRCA! We had so much fun learning about native wildlife and plants and exploring the marsh and beaches. Thanks to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation for this opportunity.
To see our video of the day, click here!
Before Semhar became a Peer Navigator at Women’s College Hospital’s Crossroads Clinic, she volunteered in our Welcome Group Program.
“It’s quite a transformation from being a volunteer and now working side by side with Together Project staff!”
To learn about Semhar’s journey, click here!
For Welcoming Week, we’re featuring Marwa, one of our Welcome Group volunteers! In this video, she talks about one of her highlights as a volunteer: the newcomers introducing her as one of their closest family members at a wedding!
To view Marwa’s video, click here!
On Saturday, our Welcome Group newcomers and volunteers met up for a guided tour through the Indigenous Agriculture Garden at the Evergreen Brick Works! To see more, click here.
As Together Project’s first Match Coordinator, Nasima Omari Sayar brings a wealth of experience as an Afghan community leader, a newcomer to Canada, and a former Welcome Group volunteer. Meet Nasima, our newest team member, here!
In this video, Dr. Michaela Hynie discusses the value of social support in helping to ease the stress of refugee resettlement. Click here to view it!
Video credit: Immigrant and Refugee Mental Health Project (IRMHP)
Visit the IRMHP website to register for their free online courses & learn about their other resources to support immigrant & refugee mental health.
Meet Nader Daouk, a Welcome Group volunteer from Lebanon who restarted his life in Canada in his 30s, and uses his experience to inspire other newcomers!
With his positive energy and attitude, Nader is a volunteer who seeks to help other adult newcomers to see their settlement journey as an opportunity.
Meet Farah Kurji, our new steering committee member!
As a second-generation Canadian, lifelong volunteer, and Senior Manager of Strategy & Planning at TD Bank Group, Farah brings a wealth of experience in creating social impact.
After fleeing Eritrea at only 21 years old, Dawit Demoz became a refugee focused on helping other refugees. With his over 10 years of experience in advocating for refugees, Dawit has focused on pushing for meaningful refugee participation at decision-making tables, and as the Community Relations Manager at Jumpstart Refugee Talent, Dawit provides free services to refugees in Canada who are seeking meaningful employment.
After being forced to leave Syria as a teenager, Khaled Abdulwahed’s personal journey fuelled his drive to make a difference for other refugees. He has volunteered with Together Project, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and many more organizations supporting refugee-centred development projects. He is currently the Administrative Manager of Molham Team’s Canadian office, and is nicknamed “The Syrian Mayor of Toronto.”
Featuring our first Together Project #RefugeeCityBuilders: Sedra and Shahd Alshamaly of Elegant Art!
At just 15 and 13 years old, these two remarkable Syrian teens in the Greater Toronto Area have dedicated their art to helping fellow Syrian refugees through their initiative, Elegant Art.
Why would a Welcome Group decide to extend their match from six months to nine?
When 20-year-old Manuela learned about Together Project, little did she know that this would lead to a nine months of social connections with four volunteers who would help her settle into her new life, show her around Toronto, and become some of her first friends in Canada.
Click here for an interview with Manuela and two of her Welcome Group members, Hanna and Jessica!
For National Volunteer Week, we’re celebrating Marwa Abboud, an Arabic interpreter in our Welcome Group Program!
In this video, she talks about her background as an immigrant and her personal inspirations to volunteer.
Announcing our newest program: Welcome Groups for Newcomer Youth!
Through the support of the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation, we’re proud to announce that we’ll be able to reach more refugee newcomer youth.
Learn more by checking out our interviews with university students Ida, a current volunteer, and Aya, an immigrant youth. Click here!
Together Project was proud to support BAM Collective’s “Bridging the Gap Between Newcomers, Refugees, and Indigenous People” event. From the performances to the teachings to the speakers, it was a wonderful day for newcomers, refugees, Indigenous leaders, and community partners to come together. To watch our video of the day, click here!
Aya moved to Canada from China where she was a refugee after the Syrian war started. She’s a student advocate, speaker, artist, and a past refugee newcomer participant in our Welcome Group Program. Together Project matched her with a group of young women who helped her based on the priorities that she wanted to focus on. Check out her video here!
Did you know that our Welcome Group Program is in Ottawa?
For Community Health and Well-being Week, we featured our partnership with CCI in this article with Anneke van Nooten, Client Support Services Program Coordinator.
For this article, we connected with Welcome Group Lead Natasha and Afghan newcomer Zamarin to share both sides of the #WelcomeGroupProgram experience. Check it out here!
“Three of us in the group, myself included, come from families of immigrants. We’re extra sympathetic to the immigrant experience, and that’s a huge reason why we chose to do this volunteer work.” Hear more from volunteer Marilou Lopes here!
When this newcomer mother & her family moved to their new home in Toronto, they received support from 6 Welcome Group volunteers in their neighbourhood. To see what a newcomer experience is like in our Welcome Group Program, click here!
Meet Mohammed: Long-time Welcome Group Volunteer and Our New Steering Committee Member!
Meet Hanen: Syrian-Canadian Changemaker and Our New Steering Committee Member!
Meet Western University Researcher Maria Besselink!
A Study of Together Project’s Welcome Group Program: Examining Canadian Volunteers’ Virtual Contact Experiences with Refugees
“This positive energy is like a battery for me”: An Aspiring Physician on Being a Welcome Group Volunteer
“I can confidently say I have five Canadian friends and family… they are supportive in every area of my life.”
“At some point in anybody’s life someone somewhere has volunteered to assist them in a time of need.”
“Even though we couldn’t meet in person because of the pandemic, I feel like we were able to become friends.”