Peer Outreach Workers
In 2002, Access Alliance developed the Peer Outreach Worker (POW) model with the recruitment of peer women from high needs communities who participated in a multi-year training program as paid employees.
In their role as Peer Outreach Workers, the women learned skills, reached out to immigrant and refugee families, shared experiences, language and culture, and linked families to services. Their work had the goal of overcoming barriers, increasing access to health opportunities, and nurturing social support networks.
POW responsibilities included:
Outreach to isolated newcomer families in under-resourced neighbourhoods;
- Information and referrals to health and social services;
- Assistance in organizing and facilitating a wide range of workshops (parenting, fitness, healthy eating, expressive arts, etc.);
- Accompanying clients to agencies such as school and housing boards, social assistance programs, citizenship and immigration services, and other non-profit agencies;
- Providing language support.
In 2008, after evaluating the program, Access Alliance decided to formally integrate the role of community interpreter into the Peer Outreach Worker model and ensure all peers were tested and trained as per the Canadian National Standards. All peers are now fully qualified community interpreters and are able to formally exercise this role as required while working in the field.
Ambreen Akbar talks about her experience as a Peer Outreach Worker: