YWCA Hamilton’s new Join program offers wraparound services for newcomers, youth, and the 2SLGBTQ+ community

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We are excited to introduce a new program designed specifically to help newcomer women, youth and 2SLGBTQ+ youth meet all of their needs while settling into their communities.

Join is a unique immigration and settlement program that offers a “one-stop shop” for its participants, offering everything from employment training, networking, safe spaces, and trauma counselling. The goal of the Join program is to help women, youth, and 2SLGBTQ+ youth feel connected and fulfilled in their communities, while helping them remove any barriers they may face as newcomers.

Tehreem Zafar, manager of Immigrant and Settlement Services at YWCA Hamilton, oversees the Join program. As an immigrant to Canada herself, she understands how challenging it can be to integrate into a new community.

“As a newcomer, you face a lot of barriers, and you’re very hesitant to approach very many people or very many places – because you’re afraid. Will they be welcoming? Will they understand me? Will they have a language interpreter who will help?,” she said. “Join will have all of those pieces under one roof.”

A headshot of a woman with brown skin and black hair.
Tehreem oversees the Join Program.

For Tehreem, Join is about offering holistic services that are tailored to the needs of every individual participant. Each participant receives a needs assessment, and then receives services based on their personal situation – whether that means recovering from trauma after experiencing intimate partner violence, connecting with other 2SLGBTQ+ folks who share a similar identity, or helping with resumes, interview prep, and translation services.

“It’s a very welcoming program that invites you to come without any hesitation,” she said. “Hopefully you’ll find all the answers within one program. You’ll be getting all the programs and services under one program umbrella.”

Join offers services from a trauma-informed, intersectional, gender-based framework. Participants are offered child minding services, bus tickets, and any other practical tools they may need to help them access the program. Join also includes services to help participants make social connections, including conversation circles and information sessions.

Since the program began last August, Tehreem said that she and her team have already celebrated several success stories. One participant, a newcomer who immigrated from Saudi Arabia in 2018, had a Bachelor’s degree in Medical Laboratory Technology but was having difficulty finding a job in Canada. Before participating in Join, she had worked as a store cashier in Canada, but was unemployed when she began the program. After enrolling in Join, this participant found a job in her field at Life Labs as an assistant lab technician in Toronto and plans to continue her education to become a licensed Medical Laboratory Technologist in Canada.

Tehreem says her goal for the participants of Join is to leave the program feeling confident and independent.

“We want them to be able to navigate their own way. They are employed, they have proper housing, they have their financial plans laid out for them, and they are connected with their community so they don’t feel isolated,” she said. “We want them be educated about their rights, especially their rights as women in Canada. And for 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals, they are fully connected with their community.”

To be eligible for the Join program, you must  identify as a woman, 2SLGBTQIA+ or non-binary and either be a permanent resident, protected person/refugee or a live-in caregiver. Temporary foreign workers with an approved work permit may also apply.

The program is free for participants and accepts applications on an ongoing basis. To learn more, contact Tehreem at TZafar@ywcahamilton.org or 905.522.9922, ext. 335.

You’re invited to the Join program’s Virtual Job Fair!

Join us for our upcoming virtual job fairs to get the latest jobs in Hamilton and surrounding areas. Entry is free!

Our Job Fairs will bring together local job seekers and employers. Job-seekers will have the opportunity to meet employers who are hiring, and will be able to submit applications and participate in interview opportunities in real time.

Join us to broaden your networks, make new connections and find a lead that could take your career or job search to the next level.

February 2, 2021
2:00 – 6:00 p.m. via Zoom
Free entry

March 2, 2021
2:00 – 6:00 p.m. via Zoom
Free entry

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