Innovations - Refugees Welcome
Refugees Welcome is a German non-profit organisation that matches refugees with people who have spare rooms in their homes and are willing to open them to others.
It takes its inspiration from the popular couch-surfing and flat-sharing websites that have sprung up in recent years. People advertise their room or rooms and provide a description of their area, the number of housemates already sharing the space, and their interests and languages spoken. Refugees Welcome then finds a refugee most suited to that house and arranges a face to face meeting. If everyone gets along and is happy to proceed than the refugee moves in!
Given that Europe is in the midst of the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War, with over 500,000 refugees arriving in the EU alone and millions more displaced throughout countries like Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt, an initiative such as this is most timely and much needed.
Refugees Welcome recognised that many refugees, even when granted asylum, face tremendous hardships and focussed on helping them to solve a particular one; finding a new home in a foreign land.
The system system itself isn’t too different from standard tenancy agreements. A refugee will pay a rent to the homeowner but the source of finance comes from a variety of places. Where state funding is not available, Refugees Welcome will step in and help to fundraise for the new member’s household costs. This might be through a crowdfunding platform or micro-donations, something which the household itself can get involved in by reaching out or promoting to their friends and families.
All members of the household stand to gain from this agreement. The refugee is brought in to a stable housing situation that should aid in their integration. The homeowner has an opportunity to learn about a new culture, hear stories from different perspectives and plays a vital humanitarian role helping someone in need.
So far, Refugees Welcome have housed hundreds of people in countries including Germany, Austria, Greece, Portugal and Spain and are working to spread their idea throughout Europe.