Newcomer support is as close as Surrey’s Progressive Intercultural Community Services

Moving to a new country can be daunting enough, but add the challenge of finding work, making new friends or learning a whole new financial system and the results can be overwhelming.

In Surrey, the Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society – or PICS – is here to help.

In fact, PICS offers a full 32 programs, specifically designed for new Canadians of all ages, including new immigrants, refugees and international students, says Phalak Betab, Communications and Fundraising Officer.

“When you come to a new country, most of the time you don’t have access to information from a trusted source and it can be overwhelming,” Betab says.

Founded in 1987 as a one-stop-shop for services, PICS serves between 35,000 and 40,000 people every year, Betab notes. “We are that trusted source.”

Programs run the gamut of digital literacy and language classes to career development and volunteer placement.

“When I first came to Canada, I never knew I could learn about all these things under the guidance of someone at PICS,” Betab reflects. “It’s why I’m so excited to share all of these programs available for newcomers.”

Other programs offer skills around financial literacy, like how to get a social insurance number or open a bank account, for example, or how to identify and avoid scams, like paying for the opportunity for employment – key as people navigate the job market in a new country, Betab says.

Here’s a look at some of the many offerings from PICS:

  1. Job seekers: From greenhouse and public works positions to construction trades, professional certification and small business support, PICS has program to help you find and secure employment. Need help brushing up your resume or interviewing skills? Their partnership with Work BC can help! You’ll also find programs in English for the workplace and free basic computer and employment training for newcomer women.
  2. Older adults: Programs specifically designed for older adults include 55+ workshops, with training and one-on-one assistance with job searches and self-employment all included.
  3. Younger adults: Teens and young adults can browse a wide variety of programs designed to build connections and employment skills, like the Helping Youth Preparing for Employment, offered in conjunction with RBC. Other programs let youth gain valuable foundational and transferable skills through youth-led community engagement projects or volunteer placements.
  4. People with disabilities: Specialized programs for those with a disability include employment and settlement support, and digital literacy.

New hub for international students

International students are also among PICS’ clients, and the team was excited to open an International Student Hub last week at the PICs offices, Betab says.

Learn more about the Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society at, call 604-596-7722 or find them on social media channels.

READ MORE: New long-term care facility in Surrey will support the South Asian community

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