Stories of Learning and Hope

We all worked together to make a difference

Hassan Edlbi arrived in Canada from Syria in February 2017. Without family and friends and with limited English, he felt alone and isolated in his new environs. When he connected with ISSofBC’s settlement services, little did he know that in less than a year, he would feel completely different, thanks to a multi-function team of settlement support workers and dedicated volunteer mentors who worked collaboratively to help Hassan feel at home.

Services Applied
  • Information and orientation
  • Needs Assessments and referrals
  • Matched with volunteer mentors
  • Field trips and networking events
  • English practice in informal (out of class) setting
  • Help with income assistance documents, travel documents, etc.



Arriving in Canada without family and knowing no one in Vancouver, Hassan felt lonely and isolated. His first contact at ISSofBC was with a Volunteer and Community Connections Worker (VCCW), who immediately identified his sense of isolation and referred him to a settlement worker to address this and other settlement needs. His settlement challenges included: lack of knowledge and understanding of social systems and Canadian culture, lack of knowledge of community and neighbourhood resources and services, and limited English which made it difficult for him to meet people and make friends.


A multi-function team of settlement staff and volunteers worked collaboratively to address Hassan’s settlement needs: the volunteer and community connections worker conducted the needs assessment interview, the settlement worker provided orientation, information and referral services, and the volunteer settlement mentor helped Hassan learn about Canadian culture and life in Vancouver, navigating local and community resources, in addition to serving as a friend. Hassan also enrolled in ISSofBC’s Learning in Action Program and was matched with another mentor who helped him practise his English. He joined field trips to hockey games and became active in networking events like community dinners and picnics.


The collaborative approach taken by the various staff in assisting Hassan has made a great difference in changing Hassan’s outlook as a newcomer. By becoming familiar with various resources and services available in his area such as community centres, specialized shops and libraries, Hassan is now comfortable accessing them. By spending time with his mentors to practice English and meet other Canadians while learning about life in Vancouver, Hassan’s English and self-confidence have improved significantly. By attending outings and social events, Hassan’s feelings of isolation and loneliness have been reduced and he now feels very much part of a larger community. He is now more energized, self-sufficient and happier!

I came to Canada alone and had little English. I didn’t know where to go for things, what is my daily routine. With my mentor friend I could practice my English, learn about Vancouver and I feel I have someone to go to now. By going to events such as Canucks hockey game, skating and other events I learned more about Canadian culture. My volunteer mentor answered many questions that I had and made things easier for me. I found new places, met new friends. Joining the Settlement Mentoring program was one of the best things I did!

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