Cities play a crucial role in the reception and integration of asylum seekers in local communities. Within Europe there has been a growing number of welcoming voluntary activities combined with sometimes openly hostile but at least concerned reactions towards the reception and integration of refugees. Especially in deprived neighbourhoods there is a risk of poor social inclusion of new migrants where residents already themselves face problems of high unemployment and lower levels of education.
The Utrecht Refugee Launchpad seeks to develop a new way to deal with reception facilities for refugees in neighbourhoods by introducing an inclusive approach. The project aims to create a combined learning and living environment for both refugees and the local community. It offers the neighbourhood a vibrant and enigmatic centre with a SOCIUS community. A group of carefully selected youngsters with a strong connection to the neighbourhood and it’s improvement created trendy living quarters in the same building where the refugee shelter is located. Youngsters are of mixed levels of education, occupation, gender, age, colour and background. Their common ground is the intent to create a community with the asylum seekers within the neighbourhood. Neighbourhood members are invited to follow international entrepreneurship training or Business English classes together with the asylum seekers, followed by peer to peer coaching and introductions to local businesses. The lessons learned in the URLP could be both used within the Netherlands or elsewhere. This way the approach ensures a future proof investment into the participants’ lives, which could be built up in Utrecht or elsewhere if the asylum request is denied or when refugees may want to rebuild their home country when the war is over. The project seeks to offer asylum seekers and neighbourhood(youth) alike an active and entrepreneurial environment. The core target group remains, of course, the refugee community. However, by mixing refugees with neighbourhood participants, potentially opposing groups are thought to bridge a gap and experience mutual support instead of growing alienation.
- Gemeente Utrecht
- Socius Wonen – SME
- Universiteit Utrecht - School of Economics (U.S.E.) and Centre for Entrepreneurship (UtrechtCE).
- Stichting Volksuniversiteit Utrecht - Division of English courses
- Social Impact Factory – NGO
- Vluchtelingenwerk Midden-Nederland – NGO
- University of Oxford - Centre on Migration, Policy and Society
- Roehampton University
The experience of living, learning and developing together will create a shared social capital between newcomers and residents. These new experiences may launch social change and will hopefully provide new opportunities in the labour market for participants.
November 2016: SOCIUSYouth received the keys to their new homes from the Deputy Mayor during an official event.
February 2017: Start of Entrepreneurship courses and English lessons for neighbourhood members and asylum seekers.
Summer 2017: Open House event for the neighbourhood, asylum seekers, U-RLP partners and importants stakeholders.
Spring 2018: The first results of the project and experiences will be presented in Utrecht to other European practitioners and scientists.
Spring 2019: Presentation of the Evaluation and research results of Oxford University and Roehampton University.
Cities play a crucial role in the reception and integration process of asylum seekers. The way we receive newcomers into our society has an impact on its future shape and prosperity.
The Utrecht Refugee Launchpad is an inclusive approach to facilitate integration from day one by introducing a shared living concept in which local youth and asylum seekers live together. It aims to create an innovative reception facility which is built upon social networks within the neighbourhood developing future proof skills together with asylum seekers. After the determination of an asylum status participants will have developed skills in self efficacy and resilience which can be used both in the Netherlands or elsewhere.