Ongoing Project:

IFSSA Client Needs Assessment: Understanding what independence looks like for our clients

Researchers: Richard Enns1, Zipporah Greenslade1, Zenia Sleiman2, and Omar Yaqub3
Affiliation: University of Calgary1, NorQuest College2, University of Alberta3
Research Partner: Islamic Family and Social Services Association (IFSSA) and the Edmonton Social Planning Council (ESPC)
Keywords: refugees, newcomers, IFSSA, Edmonton, social services, supports, food depot, independence


Objective: IFSSA primarily serves newcomers and refugees and is one of the largest food depots in the city of Edmonton.  This study aims to increase our understanding of the needs of IFSSA’s long-term clients,  and to identify how best to facilitate their independence.

Justification: IFSSA was one of the primary responders to the Syrian refugee crisis in Edmonton and now serves more people in one month than it did in all of 2011. This has stretched IFSSA’s resources and led to a desire to better understand the needs of long-term clients in order to identify thoughtful approaches of increasing their independence.

Practical goal: This study will produce a report that outlines how IFSSA could better facilitate the independence of its long-term clients by providing recommendations on: referrals and partner agencies to work with and how to integrate services; alternative/ complementary supports to offer clients; improving the intake process; journey maps for clients; and optimising long-term support and exploring alternative options for support.

Primary audience: service providers and policy makers.


This study uses an ‘assets based’ perspective that recognizes the skills and resources clients have rather than only deficits. Researchers will conduct a literature review, interviews, and focus groups to gather data.

This study asks the following questions:

  1. What are the gaps in service and unmet needs that IFSSA’s clients are facing?
  2. What are the barriers to them accessing other services?
  3. How are they being socialized?
  4. What can be done to reduce isolation?
  5. How can IFSSA best facilitate their clients’ independence?
  6. What interventions would be more effective and cost comparative to delivering food hampers?
  7. What assets and skills do IFSSA clients have that are being underutilized?

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