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Calling all sponsors: Help us to help you!


Don Smith of the Anglican diocese fields questions from potential sponsors at a Refugee 613 information session at the Ottawa Mosque.

 Refugee 613 is frequently asked by journalists, by decision-makers and by the person on the street to sum up the overall picture of sponsorship in the capital — and every time, we have to make an educated guess. There is no master list that shows how many sponsorship groups there are in Ottawa, no database of how many newcomers they will be responsible for in the coming years, no way to track who has just applied and who is already enrolling their arrivals in school.

This makes it a challenge to give sponsors news and updates about refugee policy changes, health care and settlement services. It makes it extremely complicated to match families trying to sponsor their relatives with local groups looking for someone to sponsor. And it makes it nearly impossible to estimate how many more private sponsorships Ottawa could comfortably absorb in the coming years.

But that's about to change.

As a first step to painting a picture of Ottawa's sponsorship community, today Refugee 613 is launching an online registry of private sponsorship groups. The goal is to create a resource that can help us all to better understand and serve this growing community and improve our city's settlement efforts.

"We badly need to know what the capacity for sponsorship is in Ottawa, and be able to reach sponsorship groups quickly and easily," says Don Smith, chair of the Anglican diocese working group on refugees, a sponsorship agreement holder and a member of COR, the Coalition in Ottawa for Refugees. "This registry is an important step toward that."

If you have a sponsorship group, we want to hear from you. Please go to http://www.refugee613.ca/pages/sponsorship-registry-questionnaire and fill out the signup form to enter your group in the registry. You'll be asked for basic contact information and brief descriptions of where your group is in the sponsorship process. This information will be collected in a database that will form the foundation for a mailing list and help us paint a more accurate picture of sponsorship in the city. It will also give you greater access to important information and help improve your sponsorship experience. If you have any questions about the registry, please send an email to info@refugee613.ca and put "Registry" in the subject line.

"Settlement agencies are eager to ensure that sponsorships groups have access to settlement resources and timely information on programs and events. A centralized sponsorship group list offers us a means to achieve this," says Leslie Emory, executive director of OCISO.

Help us take some of the guesswork out of sponsorship – please register today, and share this link in your network to encourage others to do the same.