Immigrant Services Society of BC has opened its newest satellite location in Surrey after hearing of the need from clients.
ISSofBC officially opened the new office, located at 301-10334 152A St., on May 2. The Surrey welcome centre, however, has actually been operational since January, said Ewa Karczewska, general manager of community relations.
The centre offers several services such as HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) and Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants program, along with primary health care, trauma counselling and connections to Francophone resources and activities.
Karczewska said ISSofBC has been providing “primarily employment services” in Surrey for a number of years, as well as helping with resettlement for Syrian refugees. She said this brand new location is modelled after the Vancouver location, which really combines a number of programs and services under one roof that are provided by ISSofBC, as well as we have some partner agencies that are co-located with us.”
For a number of years, Karczewska said, ISSofBC has been trying and offering a number of programs in Surrey, but not to the same scale this satellite office is able to offer. She said the society recognized “the need to have a bigger presence in Surrey.”
“We have so many satellite locations. We always try and go and follow the clients and see where the need might be, so definitely we know Surrey is a fast-growing community and for many of the newcomers south of the Fraser because it’s more affordable,” Karczewska said.
“We’ve been hearing from the clients that they would like to access our services in the place where they are right now. Many of them might have been through the temporary housing that we offer in Vancouver, but once they move out of the temporary housing, they might settle in Surrey. To travel back to Vancouver – yes, there are other agencies and they’re free to access the services with them – however, some of them already made connections, either with staff or with the programs once they’ve been in temporary housing and would like to pursue it.”
While ISSofBC just opened its only Surrey location, the society has been around for decades.
Started in 1972, Karczewska said, ISSofBC began with volunteers who organized efforts to help hundreds of Ismaili refugees fleeing Uganda.
The society now offers services out of 16 offices in 11 communities in B.C.