Guest Blog: “Making Grey Bruce Home” launches virtual information hub and toolkits

Date: May 13, 2019

“Making Grey Bruce Home” is a project of the United Way Grey Bruce, in partnership with Grey Bruce Welcoming Communities, to develop, test and implement a model for increasing the capacity of rural regions to support the social and economic integration of current and anticipated refugees and vulnerable newcomers. The project is meant to benefit communities that do not have formal coordinated settlement and support services.

Vulnerable newcomers often have multiple settlement needs, such as housing, language, health care, mental health, transportation, financial, employment and education. It is important for them, and those who are supporting them, to have access to information about services that meet those needs. A virtual information hub:, is an online “one-stop shopping” venue where a person will find up-to-date information about services in their area such as a description of the service, where to access it, contact person, etc. To ensure the accessibility for newcomers who experience language barriers, the hub needs to have a built-in translation function.

The website was developed by Community Connection – 211, the local 211 provider. It utilizes the encompassing 211 database of non-profit organizations, community groups and government agencies. The information in the database is updated every six months by the 211 system. It is specific to Bruce Grey but the hope is that other communities will see the value and look to develop their own specific site. The site also just won an innovation award.

The Newcomer Information Bruce Grey website can be searched in over 20 different languages. The choice of languages chosen reflected the “mother tongues” spoken in Grey and Bruce County according to the Statistics Canada 2016 Census report, and the ESL (English as a second language) /ELD (English Language Development) survey of the Bluewater District School Board in Spring 2018. The category and subcategory names are displayed in both the selected language and English. This enables those who are supporting the newcomers to assist them in using the website.

Newcomer Information Bruce Grey is an innovation because of its ability to provide up-to-date information in multiple languages. Being in its first generation, the website is still in development. As the site uses Google Translate, some newcomers who have tested the website expressed that the translation was a little “awkward” but understandable. At this time the search function is restricted to English but there are plans to explore how to search in other languages. The United Way of Bruce Grey will continue to assess its functionality as technology and budget allows. 

“Making Grey Bruce Home” had the support of municipal, social service, sponsorship and community organizations across the region of Grey Bruce who recognized the need to increase their capacity to serve refugees and vulnerable newcomers.

One of the outcomes of this project, which was completed March 31st, 2019, was the development of three tool kits for rural communities.The toolkits can be found in ROI’s Knowledge Centre here.

More resources can be foud on:

Guest blog provided by Francesca Dobbyn, Executive Director, United Way Grey Bruce.