Monday 24th October 2016                 Change text size:

Safe Houses and Jobs provided for LGBTI Refugees

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Micro Rainbow International CIC selected as semi-finalist in European Social Innovation Competition supporting integration of LGBTI refugees and migrants in the UK


Micro Rainbow International CIC (MRI) has been selected from over 1,000 applicants from 36 countries as a semi-finalist in the 2016 edition of the European Social Innovation Competition. Open to applicants across Europe, this year’s Competition theme ‘Integrated Futures’ saw the judges choose entries with the potential to address the reception and integration of refugees and migrants in Europe.

MRI is a UK based social enterprise that tackles poverty within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) community. It has operations in Cambodia, Brazil and the UK and supports LGBTI people to improve their livelihoods by setting up small businesses, finding training and jobs.

In the UK, MRI provides a lifeline to hundreds of LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers who live below the poverty line. In addition, MRI is developing a project that will provide safe housing to LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers to help them integrate into British society and to end LGBT poverty. This commercial activity will generate profits and subsidise a suite of additional services to aid the integration of LGBTI refugees, including peer support groups, employability workshops, coaching and technical assistance in setting up SMEs.

Sebastian Rocca, Founder and CEO at MRI said: “We are thrilled to be shortlisted as a semi-finalist for the European Social Innovation award. LGBTI refugees leave their countries after having experienced torture, imprisonment or violence just because of whom they are. On arrival in the UK they are often accommodated in unsafe housing, which damages their mental health, destroys their self-esteem. Several reported having been abused in their accommodation. These factors contribute to their situation of poverty and jeopardise their chances of integration. With this project we see an opportunity not only to provide safe housing to LGBTI refugees, but also to build a self-sustainable activity that will generate additional income to support LGBTI refugees further in their integration in the UK. It is a no brainer; with MRI’s business model everyone wins”.

The competition seeks creative approaches that help realise the potential of refugees and migrants, enabling them to contribute to the social, economic, cultural and political life of their host countries.

“MRI’s project is not only of high social impact, but its investment structure and potential for future sustainability are critical innovative models within the not for profit sector,” said Mark Donald, Head of London Banking Practice at Weil Gotshal and Manges. “We have been delighted to provide pro-bono legal assistance for this worthwhile project and we wish MRI all the best in this competition,” added Caroline Gershon, Associate at Weil.

TrustLaw, the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s global pro bono legal programme facilitated the connection between MRI and Weil, Gotshal & Manges. TrustLawconnects the best law firms and corporate legal teams around the world with high-impact NGOs and social enterprises working to create social and environmental change.

Along with 29 other semi-finalists, Micro Rainbow International CIC was invited to the social innovation mentoring academy to progress their ideas with tailored support and workshop sessions. The social innovation academy was held from 4-6 July in Berlin, where semi-finalists took part in workshops and visited German examples of collaborative approaches to helping with integration. Following the academy, ten finalists will be selected by the jury and the three most effective projects will each be awarded with a prize of €50,000 at the awards ceremony in Brussels in October 2016.

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