How can we better support the refugees in our communities? With the holiday season just around the corner, consider our ten ideas on how to help out refugees in your area, from supporting local businesses to getting involved with resettlement agencies.
Helping Refugees This Season
With the holidays just around the corner, many communities – especially disadvantaged ones – will be experiencing additional hardships. People experiencing homelessness must deal with colder temperatures, families prone to domestic violence are faced with additional stress, and food insecure individuals must wait in longer lines for provisions, just to name a few.
Unfortunately, not all groups receive the same attention as winter sets in. Refugees are one such community that requires just as much help and support, and it is important to ensure that their needs are being met. As we work to aid those that health and human service organizations serve, consider our ideas on how to support refugees.
The Status of Refugees in the US
There are over 3.1 million refugees in the United States. Since 1980, refugees from all parts of the world, including Central Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, just to name a few, have arrived in the states under the Refugee Act to begin a new life. They are usually fleeing intensely traumatic and dangerous places, but continue to face difficult challenges as they arrive in unfamiliar countries like the United States.
To help refugees navigate the process, refugee resettlement agencies work with other health and human service organizations (such as food banks and workforce development programs) to develop community care coordination plans. Each plays an important role in providing care to this vulnerable population.
It takes more than just these organizations, however. Refugee resettlement is most successful when neighborhoods embrace their refugees and in turn the refugees feel a sense of community where they live.
10 Ways to Help Refugees This Season
With Thanksgiving right around the corner and the holidays soon after, it is more important than ever for communities to come together and help their refugees. It can be a lonely and isolating time for many people, and this is especially true for refugees. Many are without their family, and are often reminded of their old holiday celebrations as well as struggle to adapt to the differences here.
Consider our ten ideas below on ways you can help refugees this season. Whether you’re a health and human service organization or an individual just trying to make their community better, these suggestions can be used to help this group.
- Volunteer with local resettlement agencies
The first step to helping out refugees in your community is getting in touch with your local refugee resettlement agency. This is particularly useful if you aren’t exactly sure where to start or how to start getting engaged. These agencies should know ways you can offer support or get involved with refugees in your area.
- Encourage community care coordination
Do you already work or volunteer with other health and human service organizations? Whether it be a food bank, shelter, or even a library, if you have ties to these types of organizations then you can encourage them to engage in community care coordination with local refugee programs.
- Raise awareness on social media
Social media has become a powerful tool for raising awareness and helping instigate change. Consider sharing a supportive post during the holidays that highlights ways to help out refugees. Need ideas? You can check out some ideas on our Instagram page.
- Donate money to reputable organizations
It takes a lot to keep refugee resettlement agencies going, and every donation counts. If you find yourself strapped for time (especially as the holidays set in), donating money to places that support refugees is a great alternative.
- Invite others to a holiday dinner
Do you typically have friends or family over to your home during the holidays? For many, parties and dinners abound during this time. If you have any refugees in your social circles, the holiday season creates a perfect reason to invite them to your home. If you don’t know any refugees you could invite over, check out suggestion #1 and #7 on our list.
- Support refugee-owned businesses
One of the great benefits of having refugees in your community is the diverse skills and experiences they can bring with them. Many refugees find their footing by opening up their own businesses, whether it be clothing, other goods, or even restaurants. As you buy gifts and celebrate by going out to eat, focus on supporting refugee-owned businesses.
- Attend a new community group
Do you find yourself feeling lonely as well during this time of year? Or simply looking for ways to connect with others around you? Consider attending a new community group–especially if those groups are refugee focused or inclusive. This can be a great way to connect with refugees in your area and build friendships with one another.
- Educate yourself on refugee issues
Staying up-to-date on refugee issues is an important part of supporting refugees. This is a valuable skill not just during the colder months, but year-round. No two refugees have the same exact needs–or experiences–as another, and as such it is important to educate yourself on how to best help those who have resettled in your community.
- Share your traditions
What events do you and your family like doing during the holidays? Whether you like to go caroling, enjoy re-watching classic movies, or love throwing big New Years parties, you can use these as opportunities to include refugees in your community. November through January can be a confusing time to navigate, especially for those new to the US. Reaching out to refugees in your area can help others better understand our cultural traditions.
- Embrace other traditions
Similar to #9, consider exploring new traditions, especially those celebrated by refugees in your community. Many cities have churches, community centers, and markets for refugees in the area, and these places often hold holiday celebrations.
Eccovia is proud to work alongside refugee resettlement agencies to help provide critical care to those who need it most. Our industry leading case management system ClientTrack® is carefully designed to provide unparalleled support to refugee resettlement programs as well as other health and human service organizations. Reach out to our experienced team here to learn how ClientTrack can help you reach your goals.