Immigrant Women’s Peer Support Program, Immigrant Services Society of BC


AUDIENCE   Settlement, social and health service providers

POPULATION OF INTEREST   Immigrants and refugee women

LOCATION   Vancouver and Burnaby, BC

THE NEED   Immigrant and refugee women in Canada often experience isolation. Because social support can be difficult to maintain, which can negatively impact mental health, there is a need to facilitate integration of this population to reduce their social exclusion.

WHAT'S PROMISING   This program uses a two-pronged approach to decrease social isolation, whereby immigrant and refugee women both lead peer support groups.

KEY TAKEAWAY   It is important to rethink how immigrant and refugee women can be empowered and included in the development of programs and services to meet their unique needs. This program does so by providing a space where women can apply their own lived experiences to helping others that have similar experiences.

Immigrant Women’s Peer Support Program, Immigrant Services Society of BC

Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSofBC), one of the largest immigrant-serving agencies in Canada, provides a supportive environment for newcomers to receive settlement support through a fully integrated service delivery model.

The Immigrant Womens Peer Support Program (IWPSP) provides mental, physical, and social support to immigrant and refugee women experiencing challenges during their integration process. It also trains newcomer women to become peer support group facilitators in their own communities, supporting graduates to serve other newcomer women facing difficulties adjusting to new lives in Canada.

The program has two main components:

  • Training: A 100+ hour training program, delivered over a 14 week period, taught by leading experts from various fields. Participants develop and build upon skills to become community leaders and role-models, going on to facilitate support group themselves.
  • Peer-Support Groups: Graduates of the IWPSP training go on to facilitate a 10-week support group with the assistance of staff. Peer groups provide newcomer women with a confidential environment to receive support in their settlement challenges, reduce their isolation and forge new friendships.

Program participants have reported an increase in self-esteem and self-confidence, formed lasting friendships, become more aware of services and resources available to them and have gained a better understanding of Canadian culture.

For more information, click here.

Explore other topics