Together Project
Matching
Photo: Lisa Kannakko

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Together Project is founded on the simple idea that social networks are an important factor for integration.

Thanks for your interest in volunteering with Together Project. We’re so happy you’re here!

At Together Project, we’re committed to newcomer refugee integration through social connections. We match our volunteers with refugee newcomers based on shared interests, newcomer needs, and the volunteer’s experience and skills.

We’re currently seeking Welcome Group volunteers to support refugee newcomers in Toronto, Mississauga, Ottawa, and Surrey.

9 Frequently Asked Questions for Volunteers

1. How did Together Project get started?

Founded in 2016, Together Project started in Toronto in response to the large number of newcomer arrivals from Syria. Today, Together Project matches volunteers with refugee newcomers from over 25 different countries for social and integration support. Together Project is a charitable initiative on the MakeWay shared platform.  

2. I’ve never helped a refugee or newcomer before. How will I know what to do?

Even if you don’t have relevant experience, we train all volunteers to understand the typical challenges newcomers face, and how they can help overcome them. Volunteers will have ongoing support and guidance from Together Project staff over the course of their match to answer any questions they may have.

3. What if I don’t speak the same language as the refugees I’m matched with?

We always make sure that at least one member of your Welcome Group can speak the same language as the newcomers you’re matched with.

4. Why does a Welcome Group need 3-5 members? Can I volunteer on my own?

We only match newcomer households with Welcome Groups. The benefit of volunteering as part of a Welcome Group is that you can share responsibilities and work together to address a wider range of challenges. This means that our matches have the potential for a much greater impact by allowing your group to help a family overcome a wider range of challenges than you might as an individual. If you would like to volunteer on your own, we will introduce you to other friendly volunteers to form a Welcome Group. 

5. How long is the time commitment and how often do we meet?

The full length of a Welcome Group match is six months, after which we encourage volunteers and newcomers to stay in touch informally. Sometimes, matches are extended if there is a need. We do ask for a minimum commitment of at least three months from our volunteers, simply because we are working with households with complex needs and we want to ensure we’re doing our best to provide them with meaningful social support.

During your match, the typical commitment of volunteers is around 3-4 hours a month, and we encourage regular interactions to build your group’s relationship with the newcomers you’ll be matched with.

6. What if I don’t connect with the refugees I’m matched with?

There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to building social connections. It doesn’t always happen easily, and that’s okay! You can often still make a difference in someone’s life without necessarily growing very close. That’s why we always encourage volunteers to first focus on practical ways to help out– language practice, accessing services, tutoring youth– as a way to start building those connections. We want our volunteers to have a fulfilling experience, and we’re always prepared to help you address any challenges that might come up during your match.

7. Can I donate my used things to the family I’m matched with, or fundraise for big ticket items they might need? 

One of the main goals of the Welcome Group Program is to empower newcomers and build their self-sufficiency. For that reason, it’s much more effective for volunteers to advise newcomers where to shop affordably and how to access donated goods and services on their own, rather than simply provide these things themselves. We strongly discourage financial and material support because we want newcomers to feel more independent through this experience.

8. I know a newcomer who might want to sign up for this program. How can they register?

Please encourage them to connect with their settlement counselor or caseworker to ask them to be referred to the Welcome Group Program. We work with our community partners to identify and refer clients who are interested in receiving volunteer social support. 

If the newcomer you know isn’t sure who to ask, ask them to email us at hello@togetherproject.ca and we can help them learn more.

9. I’m excited to volunteer! How can I get started?

Please see the three different volunteering options below and click “Sign Up.” We can’t wait to meet you!

 

There are three ways to start volunteering with Together Project: as a Welcome Group of 3-5 people, as an individual to be placed into a Welcome Group, and as a Cultural Ambassador. See below for more!

Welcome Groups

Welcome Groups are the backbone of Together Project’s work. We mirror Canada’s unique private sponsorship model by matching groups of 3-5 people with recently-arrived refugees. We support our Welcome Groups with training, resources, and feedback sessions for effectively supporting refugee newcomers.

The fastest way to get started is to form a group with coworkers, friends, or family members.

Volunteers

When you sign up as an individual volunteer, we can work to connect you with other volunteers in your community to form a Welcome Group. Please bear in mind that this does take more time, and we prioritize group formation in communities that are underserved by existing Welcome Groups.

We are currently matching in Toronto, Mississauga, Ottawa, and Surrey.

Cultural Ambassadors

Matches involving low English language levels are assigned a volunteer interpreter called a Cultural Ambassador to help bridge the linguistic and cultural gap between the newcomers and their counterpart Welcome Group.

Cultural Ambassadors are assigned a maximum of three matches each, and are expected to translate via WhatsApp on a daily basis and be available for in-person interpretation at least once a month for matches that are occasionally meeting in person.