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United for Refugees Town Hall recap

A spirit of community was evident at the United for Refugees Town Hall presented at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry on Monday, February 22. More than 75 faculty, staff and students from the School gathered to hear presentations and learn more about how they can become involved to support the more than 774 Syrian refugees now living in London.

Dr. Booma Bhayana, who is a faculty member and family doctor, and who volunteers with the Newcomer Health Program, served as a moderator. She was joined by Andrew Lockie, CEO, United Way of London & Middlesex; Sandra Datars Bere, city managing director, Housing, Social Services and the Dearness Home; and Valerian Marochko, executive director, Cross Cultural Learner Centre (CCLC).

While London welcomes refugees on an ongoing basis, the presenters shared that the arrival of the nearly 775 Syrian refugees represented a large number of new residents to London at one time, increasing the type of support needed.

The full extent of needs for the new residents wasn’t established completely in the weeks prior to their arrival. However, plans were expertly pulled together by a wide variety of agencies. Now community members have an opportunity to complement the work of the agencies.

Following the presentations by the community leaders, Town Hall attendees had an opportunity to pose questions. Volunteer involvement was top of mind for most of the faculty, staff and students.

A myriad of volunteer opportunities exist, ranging from helping to sort donated goods, assisting in Schools with orientation, participating in the Community Connections program with the CCLC, and pop-up volunteering with the United Way. A number of opportunities do require special training, as well as the completion of a screening to work with vulnerable populations.

Faculty, staff and students interested in getting involved should contact Maly Bun (maly.bun@schulich.uwo.ca), who would be pleased to direct your interest to the associated organization.

View a slideshow from the Town Hall below. If you can't see the slideshow click here.