To integrate migrants, we must first welcome them

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This is a guest post from Amos Doornbos, board member of Impact HUB King’s Cross. Impact HUB are consortium partners of the European Social Innovation Prize 2016, which this year has the theme ‘Integrated Futures’.

As a board member of the Impact HUB King’s Cross not-for-profit arm, I’m excited Impact HUB is a part of European Union Social Innovation Competition looking for innovations in products, technologies, services and models that can support the integration of refugees and migrants. The Impact HUB King’s Cross is full of migrants of many different backgrounds, political views, dreams, interests, colours; each with their own stories. Of course, not all are migrants, but on most days it’s hard to deny the buzz you experience when you walk through the doors created by people working on making their dreams and ideas reality by employing their skills in many different ways.

I am a migrant, born to migrant parents, but I probably don’t look like the image you have in your head. I’m a Canadian who now lives in the UK. I was born to parents who left post-war Netherlands for a better life in Canada. I’ve worked in over 20 countries, lived in 6 countries, and visited countless more, but I am a migrant, someone we, as the UK and Europe, are becoming suspicious of, however perhaps it’s because we are not interacting with migrants (or we don’t know that those we do interact with are actually migrants!)

The European Union Social Innovation Competition aims to improve the ways refugees and migrants can be integrated in Europe. One of the first steps towards integration is being welcomed and being connected to others. The act of welcoming and connecting never leaves the host unchanged as it involves learning something about the person(s) you are welcoming and connecting to others. This is one of the many reasons I think this competition is such a great fit for the Impact HUB. As one of the values of the Impact HUB is the concept of the art of hosting, which involves making members and guests feel welcome, but also connecting them to others to enable and foster collaboration. The overall desire is for an increase in social entrepreneurs, social businesses, business for good, etc.

Humanity has been migrating since it first came into being; it is not something new. Migrants and refugees bring their own stories, own experience and can help us create solutions and see things differently. In essence, our lives can become richer.

It is also important to remember migrants and refugees are more than just the label we give them. We are humans and therefore our stories are much more complex, so let’s not lose the whole person; the migrant is only one aspect of who they are. They are mothers, fathers, bakers, butchers, lovers, footballers, artists, activists, professors, religious leaders, coaches, members of school committees, entrepreneurs etc. Their lives are rich, much more than one thing.

At the Impact HUB, we desire to create a support community to foster innovation, entrepreneurship, and connection, but this is not limited to King’s Cross or even London. This is a global movement with over 80 HUBs in over 50 countries. Collaboration with diverse people is at the heart of who we are and so we welcome migrants, refugees, and even you. So the invitation is open, bring your ideas, your dreams, and let’s have a positive impact on the world.

Amos Doornbos is a Director of Faces of Another World, the Founder of Give Aid Direct and board member of the Impact HUB King’s Cross (not-for-profit arm). Amos is passionate about humanitarian aid; dragging social organisations into the 21st century; shifting power towards recipients of social services, and making information beautiful! You can follow him @AmosfromFaces.