The past months have seen our country devastated by a number of terrible attacks and tragedies which have hit communities hard. Yet we have also seen the strength of community in the way that people from diverse backgrounds have come together to deal with the aftermath, refusing to let it divide them.
The Community Integration Awards could not be more timely in celebrating this kind of community spirit. By shining a light on the UK’s leading practices on integration, the Awards pay tribute to those who work with refugees, migrants and ‘host’ communities to build a more inclusive and cohesive society for us all. We want to influence the immigration debate by highlighting inspirational examples of people doing vital work in their communities.
The initiative was set up for community benefit in 2016 by MigrationWork Trust – the beneficiary of MigrationWork CIC. Last year’s winners of the Grassroots category were the vibrant Maryhill Integration Network, a popular and inclusive organisation using arts and cultural projects to bring communities together in Glasgow.
The Brighton Table Tennis Club were another one of last year’s winners. Since then their work has propelled to new heights and reached out to new audiences, not just from within the traditional sporting channels:
“Since the award we have been approached and made partnerships with over ten Refugee charities and had national press coverage in The Guardian newspaper, who prior to the award had not heard about the work we are doing. Sport England have asked us to deliver a hugely expanded program of engaging refugees and asylum seekers through Table Tennis and the strong community that has been built over 10 years at BTTC.”
Journalist Susie Bearne from the Guardian was last year’s Media Champion, with her article “The global tech community tackles the refugee crisis”. The article spoke to a new and wider audience which may not have realised how they can be part of the solution.
This year the Impact Hub King’s Cross and Impact Hub Westminster have come on as valuable sponsors and partners. Building on last year’s success, we will continue to celebrate the ‘Grassroots Champion’, as well as introducing a new category for ‘Research Champion’ who advances the evidence on, and understanding of, integration and a new Tech & Innovation Champion . This category was inspired by the article winning the Media category last year and reaches out to those who use technology to develop innovative ways of bringing communities together.
Taking a closer look at the Tech & Innovation category, what are we looking for? Perhaps coding courses for refugees and migrants to help them integrate economically? Or an app matching refugees and migrants in need of somewhere to live, with people with spare rooms. Perhaps a website mapping out community activities aimed at newcomers to encourage social integration?
Whatever the innovative approach is to using technology to facilitate community integration, we are excited to hear more about it. Your favourite Tech & Innovation project could win a cash prize, a film made about their work, start-up support from Impact Hub Westminster as well as desk space at their offices and bespoke consultancy to take the idea to new heights, to expand and support even more people.
Migration entails change for newcomers and existing communities alike. We can harness this change to boost economic opportunities, enhance services and strengthen civic life. The result can be a more diverse society or city which is also more cohesive. It is ‘made whole’. And that is what integration means. It’s about places moving from inequality and division, to new ways of working that gives everyone a valued role in local life.
If you know of a project or venture which helps to ‘make it whole’ by opening up opportunities for refugees or other migrants on an equal basis with other residents, nominate them! So long as it involves people of refugee or other migrant background and helps this place to become more inclusive – in imaginative ways which others could learn from – then it could be in line for an Integration Award.
Nominate them here before the 14th of August 2017.