About a year ago over 35,000 refugees had arrived in Finland, hoping for a second chance to live and work in peace. But what they found was a country filled with hostility. Most people saw the refugees as a threat, a cost to society, although the vast majority of the refugees were skilled professionals with good language skills and an urge to work to get their life back on track.
The fastest way to integrate refugees to society is through work. But it was nearly impossible for them to get a job.
Instead of being yet another bystander, HBL went from reporting to reacting, taking action for an entrepreneurial, open and multicultural Finland.
An asylum seeker can work in Finland without a residence permit if she has an up-to-date travelling document and three months have passed after the filing of her residence permit document.
Together with the Finnish Red Cross, HBL developed and launched an easy-to-use mobile service which was piloted at the Auramo refugee center in Vantaa. The service connected employers with refugees looking for work.
HBL managed to bring Finns and refugees together in a mutually beneficial way, and the campaign became part of the national discourse.
The city of Vantaa was highly involved in the recruitment process, and many companies in the area offered to hire refugees. Soon over 75% of the refugees at the Auramo refugee center had signed up for the service. After a few successful hires, optimism started to spread among the refugees. Following the good results, several other refugee centers around Finland became interested in joining the service.
The success of the campaign created strong political pressure towards decision makers, and resulted in Accenture and the Finnish Red Cross taking joint action to develop a big working platform. Discussions and development are still ongoing.
There was a significant change of attitude among employers. Other similar projects have since followed, and discussions have taken a more positive, solution-oriented turn.
HBL showed that journalism is not only about reporting – it is about making a difference.