Back in 2016, a group of local citizens in Brussels realised how difficult it was for newcomers in the city (inc. asylum seekers, refugees, undocumented people…) to meet and connect with locals.
This lack of contact with locals prevents newcomers from feeling fully integrated in Brussels. It affects multiple aspects of their life, from learning languages and discovering the city and its culture, to job opportunities, housing, personal development. But it also has an impact on the ‘bruxellois’, restricting their social circles, creating prejudice and fear of immigrants.
SINGA creates spaces for connections to be made between newcomers and local people already settled in Brussels. These interactions can take the shape of group meetups, one-on-one pairings, or even hosting. We foster opportunities for newcomers and promote an enriched, diverse society where everyone has a place to live to their full potential.
It’s through these meetings that the magic really happens: friendships are born, adventures are planned, support is provided for job and house hunting, and languages, cultures and recipes are exchanged. Connections are made as the prejudices fall away!
In the collective imagination of host countries, the word “migrant” often conjures images of a uniform, dehumanised, powerless but dangerous mass of people. This lowly impression creates an insensitive view of migration, polarises society and reinforces the “us” vs “them” narrative.
SINGA recognises that the world is in movement. Movement to find new ideas, opinions and people. Movement in perceptions. Movement in stereotypes and preconceived ideas. We recognise that social values cannot move forward without this dynamism.
At SINGA, we refuse to see migration as a humanitarian or security issue. Migration gives us a vital opportunity to meet new people and bring new meaning to our lives as citizens. Migration is an economic opportunity and fertile ground for connections without limits and cultural enrichment.
SINGA shines a light on the many talents that new arrivals bring with them, to promote co-living, co-creation and cultural enrichment.
(vs "migrant" or "refugee)"
MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY
A person who has newly arrived in the territory and is searching to contribute to the host society and develop their network (professional or social).
Someone who has been living somewhere for some time (with nationality or otherwise). At SINGA, newcomers and locals meet each other on a daily basis.
We think that being in the mindset of "helping" newcomers prevents a real consideration of what they want and what they can bring. Therefore, we create spaces that are balanced, where everyone is equal as a member of SINGA.
The concept of "integration" refers to individual actions that allow someone to be included in a social system that already exists. SINGA strives to promote active inclusion, where each person (irrespective of their administrative status or other characteristics) takes part in the construction and the development of a constantly evolving system.
In 2021, SINGA conducted a survey among 400 of its members to evaluate the effects of its projects. The full report of this study is available here.
Being surrounded by people
97% of newcomers say they have at least one person they can rely on. 59% cite SINGA as the determining factor in this.
Getting out of isolation
Almost 75% of the newcomers felt lonely when they arrived in Belgium; this situation was completely reversed at the time of the survey, with the same proportion saying that they no longer felt isolated.
Developing social capital
33% of newcomers have met one or more significant people, i.e. with whom they are in regular contact and whom they can call if necessary. 91% have already mobilised this new network.
Improving their French
53% of the newcomers feel that their participation in the SINGA programmes has allowed them to improve or is still allowing them to feel more comfortable with the language.
Developing your network
90% of newcomers say they have met local people through SINGA. 30% met between 1 and 10 people at SINGA, 23% between 10 and 20, and 47% more than 20 people!
Getting to know their environment
For 61% of the newcomers, participating in SINGA has helped them to gain a better understanding of the codes of conduct and has facilitated their access to social and cultural reference points, and thus to feel comfortable in Brussels.
Taking new steps
Almost 40% of the newcomers feel that SINGA has helped them to take certain steps (all types).
ON THE COMMUNITY:
Bringing people together
Apart from the links created via SINGA, 58% of the locals have no contact with newcomers.
Normalising intergroup bonding
In 40% of cases, meetings with members of the other group continue in private life.
ON BRUSSELS RESIDENTS:
Fight against prejudices towards newcomers
66% of the locals feel that they have changed the way they look at newcomers. 48% feel able to influence the way people around them look at newcomers and to deconstruct prejudices about them.
Awareness of the potential of newcomers
70% of locals acknowledge that they realise the potential of newcomers.
Recognising the individuality of newcomers
The image of newcomers often portrayed refers to a shapeless and dehumanised group ("migrants") that has a negative impact on the host society (security, economy, etc.). 85% of locals feel that their perception has changed.
SINCE 2017 ...
700 Buddy pairs connected
60% have seen each other 4 times after 2 months
62% see each other in their private lives
67% plan to continue seeing their buddy after the project
70% will continue to come to activities
100 AdminBuddy pairs connected
86% rate their relationship as good or very good
100% would recommend the experience to others
100 cohabitations set up
92% of the refugees leaving the project found sustainable housing
78% feel that the experience of living together has made them feel more integrated in Belgium
80% of the co-habitants are satisfied or very satisfied with their experience
54% say they will continue to see their roommate after the project
80% are willing to repeat the CALM experience
1400 organised activities
52 different activities
521 bazaars organised
212 volunteers involved in their organisation, of which 30% were newcomers
32,000 registered participations, 52% of which were newcomers
HOUSING (Comme A La Maison)