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Langley's Immigrant Services Society office marks fifth anniversary

The Langley office of the Immigrant Services Society hosted an open house Jan. 18 so the public could meet staff and volunteers, and find out about the services offered. - Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance
The Langley office of the Immigrant Services Society hosted an open house Jan. 18 so the public could meet staff and volunteers, and find out about the services offered.
— image credit: Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance

Most people in Langley won’t notice the office on the second storey of an office complex in downtown Langley but thousands of people from around the Lower Mainland rely on the Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia branch.

Langley has the only ISS office South of the Fraser. It serves about about 2,000 clients each year. It’s mandate is to help immigrants integrate into Canadian society.

“ISS helps immigrant newcomers to build a future in Canada,” explained Bob Gabriel, the Langley ISS settlement manager.

That starts with staff helping newcomers with two to three weeks of housing upon arrival and help

ISS of BC started in 1975 and just marked its fifth year in Langley with an open house Jan. 18.

In addition to the eight settlement workers in the Langley office, there’s a cadre of about 75 volunteers.

“The volunteers would work with the families to help with their settlement and integration needs,” he said.

That can include helping them learn about what many locals take for granted – shopping, financial services, how public transit works, the education system and more. The volunteers also do field trips with newcomers around the area, and can be involved in conversation circles so clients have a social venue to try conversing, among other things.

ISS hosts workshops and courses on topics such as employment, youth leadership, women. It also works with other local agencies and government offices to refer clients to the services they need.

“They are not allowed to fall through the cracks,” he said.

Gabriel noted that ISS surveys clients to get feedback on whether they are getting the sorts of help they need and ISS has government requirements to meet to obtain its funding.

Gabriel, who worked many years in the banking and business sector, said the program must prove it’s meeting needs.

“There has to be that return on investment,” he said.

PHOTO: Bob Gabriel is the settlement manager for the Langley office of the Immigrant Services Society. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)

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