PROMISING PRACTICE MAY 2021

PROMISING PRACTICE

 

Landing and Settling Program at Global Gathering Place


QUICK FACTS

AUDIENCE   Settlement sector

POPULATION OF INTEREST   Immigrants and refugees

LOCATION   Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

THE NEED   The unique stressors experienced by refugees and immigrants can have a significant impact on mental health, and often, it may feel like they are alone in these experiences.

WHAT'S PROMISING   While mental health support may certainly help, refugees and immigrants hold a spectrum of ideas (and even stigma) about services like counselling. To overcome this barrier, Landing and Settling takes a gentle approach, providing space to process the successes and challenges of life in Canada.

KEY TAKEAWAY   Bringing together clients with intersecting stories and common goals is powerful. Even if initially some participants may be shy to speak, they find value in meeting other newcomers who “get it,” and in hearing their own experiences reflected in others’ stories.


Landing and Settling helps newcomers manage stress and build resilience together

Global Gathering Place (GGP) recognizes there is power in the realization that you’re not alone. The unique stressors experienced by refugees and immigrants can have a significant impact on mental health. Being able to share these experiences and have them normalized by others going through similar challenges can be incredibly beneficial. GGP’s Landing and Settling program brings newcomers together for peer support and learnings that help navigate their new life.

Through weekly group sessions, clients benefit from social interaction and are guided to build on their inherent resilience while supporting one another in their journeys. Each session has three parts: stress management, participant-led discussion, and introducing a coping strategy that helps participants decompress after heavy discussions, and at home.

When newcomers join the program, they are grappling with myriad losses, having left the life they knew behind. They have hopes of rebuilding anew but can feel overwhelmed at the prospect. While mental health support may certainly help, refugees and immigrants hold a spectrum of ideas (and even stigma) about services like counselling. To overcome this barrier, Landing and Settling takes a gentle approach, providing space to process the successes and challenges of life in Canada.

Bringing together clients with intersecting stories and common goals is powerful. Even if initially some participants may be shy to speak, they find value in meeting other newcomers who “get it,” and in hearing their own experiences reflected in others’ stories. Recently, a Landing and Settling participant who has been in Canada for nine months spoke about their settlement experiences. The speaker felt empowered by sharing, and newer participants listening gained much-needed information they could use to deal with similar challenges.

In their home countries, many clients had jobs, friends, and the comfort of familiar places. Landing and Settling participants often talk about feeling isolated and lonely in Canada, particularly during the pandemic when meeting people and joining activities can seem impossible. Clients also express feeling a lot of stress to be “perfect” and fit in right away. Lack of confidence in communication skills is common.

Participants will say things like, “My English isn’t good enough. I feel like Canadians won’t understand me or will get frustrated that I talk too slow,” when in fact they’re speaking very clearly. So, we frequently discuss the stress of perfection and practicing patience and self-acceptance.

Through the program, participants begin building a new social identity and confidence. One participant shared that “the group has been very helpful for me in getting my confidence back. In my home country I feel like I had all the confidence but now I feel like I am getting more strength and confidence to handle many situations in my life in Canada.”

Landing and Settling also helps clients feel more connected to their new community by sharing resources. Participants learn about GGP’s calendar of programs and other local services that provide accessible opportunities to be active and social.

Each session highlights how incredibly resilient and driven newcomers are. Together we learn that it’s okay to not be okay, stress is inevitable, and that reaching out for support is valid and important. These takeaways and strategies help refugees and immigrants care for their mental health during major transitions, and for the rest of their lives.

Landing and Settling is supported by United Way of Saskatoon and Area and we are deeply grateful for their continued partnership.

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