The Refugee Livelihood Lab works to shift systemic barriers and generate opportunities for thriving livelihoods in Surrey. We do this through amplifying the voices of racialized refugee and newcomer innovators, convening informed conversations to advance equity by helping shift conditions holding the problems in place and co-creating new narratives, ventures and ways of being that reflect a vision of justice, dignity and economic empowerment for all.
The Refugee Livelihood Lab is part of a growing movement supporting deep shifts in the systems which govern our lives towards equity, dignity, and sustainability for all people and the planet.
Today, in a time of heightened attention to racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, gender based violence, climate change, and more, there is an urgency and commitment to move from innovation that simply improves systems towards disrupting patterns and transforming systems.
Given that one entrenched, systemic pattern facing refugee and newcomer communities is exclusion from decision-making – to disrupt this pattern we need to be intentional about how we practice innovation, why, and who we support to be at the heart of innovation practice. Without this framework we risk perpetuating the same problems we are aiming to change.
In the Refugee Livelihood Lab we center the voices and leadership of communities directly impacted by the issues of forced migration and displacement. We believe that this practice in itself begins to create a new pattern, and a new world of possibilities for change. Beyond tokenism, we see the need for community organizing and practical initiatives that create new storylines about refugee and newcomer communities.
Refugee: The lab uses the UNHCR definition of refugee which is someone who has been forced to flee their country because of persecution, war, or violence. We also recognize the complex humanity of people outside their country of origin who are seeking to build a meaningful life regardless of their status.
Livelihood: The means by which people get the necessities for life. This includes economic survival needs and the deeper socio-cultural, ecological and political necessities for the human spirit to thrive.
Lab: A collaborative space for focused learning, discovery and action, focused on systemic change
Beyond Borders is a systems change leadership program for people who have lived a refugee or immigrant experience, and who want to level the playing field for these communities. The program takes place during 12 days over 6 months, mostly in Surrey. You will work alongside a group of other leaders with lived experience of forced/migration to develop projects that create new patterns of thriving beyond survival. We aim to amplify your projects, ground your impact in the communities you serve, and invest in you as a person.
Trampoline: Ideas into Action! is a free 12-week program for people who have an idea for a social business or non-profit that will address problems faced by refugee and newcomer communities in Surrey. People with lived experience of forced migration and displacement and/or with deep networks in these communities are welcome to apply.
This program emphasizes the importance of learning from the people engaging with your venture. Participants will conduct weekly interviews to test their assumptions, shape their product or service offering based on feedback. We will work on communications best practices to reach the population you serve, determine the most appropriate finance methods, and assess the market to see if there is demand for your offering. We will also examine the project through a “migrant justice” lens – asking about models that support democratic ownership, profit-sharing, and freedom from exploitation.
The Refugee Livelihood Lab is developed in ongoing consultation with community partners, entrepreneurs and innovators with lived experience as refugees, service-providers, policy-makers and advocates. The Lab responds to the Surrey LIP’s 2017 “Our New Home” Refugee Integration Strategy priorities around economic and social inclusion.
It’s with much excitement that we introduce the inaugural Refugee Livelihood Beyond Borders cohort. This group of leaders has deep roots in their communities and a commitment to addressing barriers