Frequently ask questions - Host Program
- What is the HOST Program?
- Why choose CultureLink's Host Program?
- What are the benefits of being matched with a newcomer?
- What are the criteria to recruit a Host Program Volunteer?
- What skills are required in a Host Program Volunteer?
- What is the role of a volunteer?
- Who are the new immigrants/newcomers?
- What is the minimum age required to participate in the Host Program?
- What are the various types of matches?
- How long is the match time? What happens during a HOST Match? Where does it take place? When does it take place?
- How much money does it cost to be in the Host Program?
- Can a match last longer than the time commitment required by the Host Program?
- Can I (volunteer) be re-matched?
- I came to Canada as an immigrant. Can I be Host volunteer?
- Am I responsible for getting a job for my match?
- What if I don’t get along with my match?
- Will I have to Host the newcomer to live in my home?
- What conversation subjects should I avoid during the match period?
- What support is available to me by CultureLink?
CultureLink’s Host program is funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. It is a one on one befriending program in which newcomers individuals and families are matched with Canadian volunteers for friendship. Meeting on weekly basis for a couple of hours a week over a 4 to 6 month period, HOST friendships assist newcomers in their integration process by creating opportunities for newcomers to improve their language skills, learn about local culture, and expand social networks.
CultureLink Host Program started in 1988. Since then we have successfully matched thousands of newcomer individuals and families. Our expertise and reputation in the community says it all.
In addition, we regularly organize free events and activities for our clients and volunteers where they can socialize participate and expand their network, such as Annual Picnic, Holiday Celebration Party, Walking tours, trips to science centre and Niagara Falls, etc. For more information, please check out our program website at www.welcomingcommunity.ca.
Volunteers have the opportunity welcome new immigrants into their community, provide support that would be helpful in their integration, make new friends, and gain new knowledge and appreciation for the newcomer experience, other languages and cultures.
- Must be a Canadian Citizen or permanent resident
- Must have at least three years life experience living in Canada preferably
- Must be fluent in English
- Must successfully pass the Host Volunteer screening process, including interview, reference check and Police Reference Check for vulnerable sectorMust be 19 years or older
- Must attend a Volunteer Orientation Session (Principles of Welcoming Communities)
- “People” Skills
- Be firmly committed to the anti-oppression and social justice
- Strong communication Skills in English
- Dependable, reliable and responsible
- Creative and flexible
- Be firmly committed to the needs and concerns of a newcomer friend
- An interest in learning about other cultures
- Good interpersonal skills, including listening, patience and sensitivity
- Ability to assist someone to become self-reliant
- Knowledge of the local community
- Fulfill the time commitment of the six months match period
- Professionalism (to follow the rules of the agency and represent it appropriately).
- To recognize and respect the diversity of Canadian society
- To respect the right to privacy of your newcomer friend(s)
- Able to provide emotional support to their friend as they may be going through during their settlement process
Depending on the needs of the newcomers, the role of the volunteer may vary but in general, here are various areas of support:
Friendship And Emotional Support
- Share social occasions such as festivals, picnics, barbecues, visits to museums, libraries, berry picking, skating, cross country skiing
- Provide a guiding hand through school registration, visits to the doctor or dentist and social service agencies
- Act as a friendly, supportive link to Canadian values and customs through your own background and experience Language Acquisition
- Provide support for ESL training
- Offer opportunities to use the language
- Provide one on one assistance with the landscape
- Act as an informal interpreter at parent teacher events
- Be a model of Canadian customs of behavior
- Encourage familiarity with local shopping and new foods
- Help to find familiar food, ethnic community and place of worship if the newcomer wants to
- Help familiarize newcomer with housing and appliances
- Act as a resource for other issues that arise
Job Search Support
- Support acquisition of a resume
- Offer opportunity to practice job interview skills
- Help newcomers to understand the current job market and broaden employment contacts
- Help newcomers understand workplace culture
- Introduce newcomers to various available resources that would be to helpful in their job search
- Introduce newcomers to opportunities that might help them get Canadian experience (volunteering, survival jobs, etc.)
A new immigrant/newcomer falls into one of the following categories: Landed immigrants, Government sponsored refugees (GARs), Convention refugees, Family class sponsorship, Investors.
Generally, new immigrants and volunteers are matched based on gender, location, age and similar interests.
For Individual Matches, the applicant Should be at least 19 years of age (same is required for newcomers); for Family Matches, the main applicant of a family should be at least 19 years of age. Children should be under constant supervision of adults.
There is Youth Host program available for younger people. Please check for a list of Youth Host SPOs at www.hostontario.org
There are two basic types of matches – Individual match and Family match. Individual match is one on one match, whereas in a Family Match, one volunteer is matched with one newcomer family or one volunteer couple/family is matched with one newcomer couple/family.
A match time is about 4-6 months commitment from both newcomer and volunteer. Generally speaking, the HOST Program is very flexible in that the ‘what, where, and when’ of the HOST Match is decided by the HOST Program participant and volunteer. It could mean a walk in the park, exploring local places to shop, or simply practicing conversational English over a cup of coffee or at the library. Both participant and volunteer are assigned to a HOST Program Case Worker as a resource and support during the length of the HOST Match.
Host Program is a free program.Newcomers and volunteers pay nothing to participate in the Host Program. Both the volunteers and newcomers do not give or loan money to each other. Volunteers and newcomers are each expected to pay their own way for activities they do together. Together, you can plan many no-cost and low-cost options.
During the match, if for some reason, the volunteer or newcomer were absent for over 2 weeks, the match is put on hold and once they are back, it is carried on as usual. This way, the match lasts longer than its original period. Moreover, by the end of the match period many individuals and families involved become good friends. CultureLink does not monitor their activities after the six months period and they can continue they friendship as they wish.We do know some match relationship has lasted more than 20 years. Read this newsletter article for insights of a longlasting match relationship.
A volunteer can be matched as many times as they like. If they are able, they can also have two matches at the same time as well. Trained and experienced volunteers who are willing to take part in another match are highly valued, especially because there are many new immigrants waiting to be matched,.
Yes! Many immigrants, including former Host newcomer participants have become volunteers as they are more established in the community. They go through the same application and training process as all other potential Host volunteers. See also – criteria of the Host Program Volunteer
No. The Host Program Volunteers may provide help and support with resume, practicing interview, learning about workplace culture and provide guidance and support for job search. See also –what kind of support a Host Volunteer can provide?
The Host Program Case Workers do their best to match you with someone having similar interests. It is possible that your personalities don’t match and you don’t get along. Sometimes, life circumstances will change and you just are just not compatible for each other. In that case, please contact your case worker and they will look into the matter. After evaluating the case, we can re-match both of you.
No,in fact, we strongly recommend that your volunteer activity not involve providing newcomers with accommodation in your home within the match period.
Avoid matters that cause conflict and be sensitive to each other’s culture and values.
During the six months match period, CultureLink’s case workers keep in touch with you to see how things are going. In case you need further assistance or want to know of services offered by CultureLink or available in the community that might be helpful for your match, you can always contact your case worker.