Venligboerne grew as a movement from an asylum centre housing 485 refugees in the town of Hjørring in October 2014. A group of volunteers from the local community wanted to help out and make the refugees feel welcome. Together they converted an old storage room into a café, a thrift shop and a library. Other activities include language cafes, free legal councelling or simply just drinking a cup of coffee, playing a game and having fun together.
Some of the volunteers started to write about the many different activities on Facebook and told about the stories of the refugees. Bringing both face and heart to the individual human being. Both the converted storage room and the Facebook group became places in which asylum seekers and Danes could meet as equals. In February 2015, author Mads Nygaard and social worker Louise Dalsgaard, two of the founders, went to Copenhagen to start a group there. At the first meeting writer, AnneLise Marstrand Jørgensen showed up. Ever since she’s been a vital figure in making Venligboerne Copenhagen the biggest group in Denmark (41.000 members). Today, local groups have popped up all over the country (101 cities and islands). Venligboerne now count more than 150,000 members nationwide.
Venligboerne is a 100% volunteer based movement. Consequently we have no staff at all.
In Copenhagen we run Venligbohus. It's located five minutes from the Grand Central Station. People from all over the world use it. Danish is being taught. Arabic, too. We have a Foodsharing project enabling us to provide dinner every day for free. Free Legal councelling is also given in the house, provided by a team of law school students from the University of Copenhagen, working side by side with two professionals and a group of retired lawyers. In Venligbohus we do internships. No particular skills are required. Main purpose, like at the very beginning in the asylum center, is to make people feel at home.
Other places like this now exists around the country.
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