How Furniture Bank helps newcomers and refugees settle in Canada

Refugees

In recent years, Canada has witnessed a surge in the number of refugees seeking asylum due to war, political threats, and unfavourable living conditions in their home countries. In 2022, more than 100,000 Ukrainian refugees sought shelter in Canada. As we approach the end of 2023, new challenges have arisen, with an increasing number of refugees seeking safety within Canada’s borders.

Since 2021, there has been a 440% jump in the number of refugees using shelters in Toronto. Unfortunately, the current shelter systems are unable to meet the overwhelming demand.

Despite Canada’s commendable reputation for providing refugee support and being the leading country in resettling refugees from 2018 to 2022, the available resources are limited.

Furniture Bank’s connection to refugees

Throughout our years of operation, Furniture Bank has been supporting newcomers and refugees as they transition into their new lives in Canada. Our charitable organization was established in 1989, during a time when government funding for newcomers was dwindling. It was then that Sister Anne Schenck, while managing a refugee centre in Scarborough, received a plea for assistance from a social agency on behalf of a desperate newcomer. 

“When I entered the house, I saw four kids—all under the age of five—sitting around a little 12-inch TV,” Sister Anne noted. “I did a basic inventory of what they had in the kitchen: two plates, two forks, two tiny pots. I knew I couldn’t cook myself dinner with what they had, let alone cook dinner for these four children. It was that moment that I said to myself that this shouldn’t be happening in the city of Toronto. I was too busy running the refugee centre to do anything about it at that time, but in that role I was already collecting furniture and some household items. That’s where Furniture Bank began.”

Sister Anne then went on to use her network to grow her efforts which eventually became Furniture Bank. Sister Anne’s story of that fateful day serves to remind us all of the deep humanitarian crisis of poverty and access to resources.

Furniture Bank is a testament to her exceptional determination, unceasing empathy, and boundless commitment to social justice.

Refugee settlement organizations

Refugees face a unique set of challenges when settling into a new country. There are many dedicated organizations committed to offering vital resources for individuals in overcoming these challenges. From facilitating employment and housing to supporting language acquisition and cultural adaptation, these organizations provide invaluable assistance.

Connecting with an organization and finding shelter is just the first step towards rebuilding their lives. Clothing, food, and furniture are among the essentials they need to feel safe and secure in their new environment.

Furniture Bank works with many of these agencies to connect with refugees in need of furnishings, including:

How long does it take for refugees to receive furniture?

At Furniture Bank, we work closely with our partner organizations to help ease the transition for refugees. When a referral is made from one of our partner agencies, we ensure the process of selecting and delivering furniture is quick and efficient.

We believe that everyone deserves a comfortable and safe home, especially those who have suffered displacement. At Furniture Bank we assure that each client receives all the necessary furnishings for their home, as well as kitchen kits and bedding kits. We take the time to understand the needs of our clients, and we do our best to accommodate their requests during delivery.

In just 72 hours from being picked up from donors, gently used furniture will be delivered by our impact team directly to a family in need. In 2022 alone we delivered 51,156 furniture items to individuals and families in the GTA.

Can refugees choose the furniture they receive from Furniture Bank?

When refugees come to Furniture Bank, they are welcomed into the showroom. The volunteers act as personal guides, assisting families in selecting their furnishings. We average 20 appointments each morning, and in 2022, served 5,558 individuals. Each client chooses furniture based on their family size and preferences.

The variety of furniture styles available in the showroom offers refugees the opportunity to create a home that reflects their own unique personalities and backgrounds, bringing a sense of dignity and pride to the process.

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Refugees and newcomers supported from 2018-2023
AI generated image/ The photo isn't real but the reality is.

How to help Furniture Bank support refugees

You can support our mission by donating your unwanted furniture and home decor or by volunteering your time. We also appreciate financial donations, which help fund our charitable services and keep them running smoothly.

If you’re interested in having your unwanted furniture picked up, we offer a removal service that starts at just $160. By using this service, you’ll receive a charitable tax receipt and contribute to our social enterprise. This not only provides financial assistance but also helps to keep our services running at no cost to our clients.

Additionally, booking a corporate volunteer day for your team can help us raise awareness, which often leads to more funding and donations.

Your furniture can change lives.

Furniture Bank is here to make sure furniture is donated directly to those in need so that your move makes a difference. 

Schedule your pickup today and join us in building stronger communities through sustainability driven action.

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