2.B Sponsors: From Mobilization to Engagement
B.6 What steps do sponsors need to take to prepare for the refugees’ arrival?
(v) Can communication pre-arrival between sponsors and refugees help to determine the latter’s needs upon arrival?
How Canada Does It
Pre-arrival communication is beneficial to both refugees and sponsoring groups. It helps develop trust and sponsoring groups can learn about the refugees’ particular needs to better prepare their settlement plan. It is also an opportunity to provide settlement orientation to the refugees so their expectations are more manageable upon arrival.
In some cases, pre-arrival communication may not be possible due to language or technological barriers. See 2.A.5 for more information.
Pre-arrival communication between the sponsors and refugees helps to improve the relationship between the parties, as it is an opportunity for sponsors and refugees to get to know each other and develop trust. As the sponsorship application is being processed, communication also helps the refugees feel more comfortable in meeting their sponsors in person upon arrival. Sponsors must be mindful their role is to provide safe and welcoming environment, so pre-arrival communication is not meant to discern personality differences and decide whether to continue the private sponsorship application.
Pre-arrival communication also assists the sponsoring group in preparing for the refugees’ arrival. The sponsors can elicit important information from the refugees such as their medical needs, level of language and education, foods they eat, and clothing needs. This information will help the sponsoring group tailor their Settlement Plan.
Pre-arrival communication is also an opportunity for sponsors to explain their role, life in the community of resettlement, and manage expectations. Example conversations may include the culture of the resettlement country and community, what type of housing refugees should expect, what sorts of services and activities exist, information about the sponsors and their family and friendship networks, and what sponsors will provide. Sponsors should be cautious about raising such topics before an application for resettlement to Canada is approved, however. Premature discussions about life in Canada will raise expectations and cause significant disappointment if the application is refused.
In some cases, pre-arrival communication may not be possible due to language or technological barriers. Sponsoring groups should be encouraged to find ways to communicate pre-arrival, for example, seeking the help of an interpreter, or communicating in simple language over text message. For more information, see 2.A.5.