“You experience a different reality as a Western lesbian white person than if you are from Syria,” says Charis Lippett, SFU student who researched and wrote the Pride report behind the Pride display at City Hall since June 6, 2017. The report recognizes that there is a lack of services for LGBTQ newcomers in Surrey, negatively impacting their settlement experiences.
In the Pride report, Jen Marchbank, Professor Gender, Sexuality and Women’s studies at SFU, has recommended that the City of Surrey fill this lacuna with staff training at Surrey’s existing service providers for healthcare, community and group support and creation of safe spaces for the unique needs of newcomer LGBTQ people.
The city of Surrey takes more than half of the Province’s accepted refugees, and has no specific medical or community services available to support newcomer LGBTQ people. Already vulnerable and possibly fleeing from their home country, newcomer LGBTQ people must travel to Vancouver, where the available services are not culturally specific. Even service providers do not know where to refer them. Their isolation increases as they are unable to connect with other LGBTQ people in a safe space.
As a first step toward their mental health and physical well-being, the Pride report has mapped out existing newcomer services in Surrey and Vancouver. “Knowledgeable and trained staff who understand their language can better serve these clients,” says Lia Bishop, SFU student presenting the Pride report to Diversecity, Surrey. The report recommends the creation of safe spaces to improve the settlement experience of LGBTQ newcomers to Surrey.
The Pride report was commissioned by Diversecity and the Pride display at City Hall was designed by City staff Laura Tymoschuk. It will be on display in the beautiful City Hall atrium until June 16, 2017. Diversecity has since secured funding to start newcomer specific LGBTQ services in Fall 2017.
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