The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly evolving both globally and locally. Here at the International Rescue Committee in Boise, we are taking necessary steps to help protect staff and the refugee and immigrant communities we serve.
Staff have fully transitioned to working remotely, and nonessential activities have been suspeneded. However, programs are still operational and staff and services remain accessible to the community. Programs critical to beneficiaries' safety, health, and/or basic needs are continuing with creative modifications and a comprehensive set of prevention measures to mitigate risk.
Ensuring information is language accessible:
A top priority has been to ensure that refugee communities have the information they need to stay healthy, prevent community spread, and respond appropriately to symptoms. Prior to suspending in-person classes, the IRC in Boise's English and vocational training classes quickly pivoted to focus on COVID-19 education. In addition, we have worked to bridge the language gap by translating information regarding COVID-19 into 12+ languages, and then sharing these resources digitally, socially, and via targeted mailings.
Assisting those hardest hit by industry lay-offs:
Many IRC clients work in industries being hit hardest by the pandemic, including hospitality, food service, and others. While the situation changes daily, recently-arrived refugees are particularly vulnerable to industries responding with hiring freezes or lay-offs. Newcomers who have not yet had the chance to secure employment (or only had employment for a short while) do not qualify for unemployment benefits or COVID-19 employment related benefits. Essential human services moving to online platforms can aggravate language barriers, and even become virtually inaccessible for those who do not own computers or phones.
With your support...
Time and again we have seen this community step in to fill the gap, and we know this time will be no different. With your support, the IRC in Boise can help impacted families with rent, utilities, and basic needs until hiring freezes are lifted or the ill regain their health. If you would like to support this effort by becoming a matching donor to the IRC in Boise’s spring Idaho Gives campaign, please contact Development Manager James Brownson at james.brownson [at] rescue.org.
Follow the IRC in Boise's Facebook page for updates, and to share language-accessible information with refugee and immigrant communities.