About a year ago, the number of refugees coming into Europe exploded, with more than 35,000 refugees arriving in Finland alone, hoping for a second chance to live and work in peace.

Unfortunately, most people did not care about the refugees, nor did the mass media.

At the same time, HBL, Helsinki’s second largest newspaper, was about to introduce the news application HBL 365 to the market while also launching our renewed Web site, HBL.fi.

Journalism and newspapers have often been regarded as neutral or impartial, reporting just the facts. However, journalism is in fact always, to some degree, influenced and shaped by personal opinions, newspaper policies, and many other contexts.

As part of renewing the company mission and brand, HBL wanted to be transparent and openly state the company values that are the fundamentals behind our reporting and our actions.

With this in mind, HBL wanted to take the next step: Instead of being yet another bystander of the refugee crisis, HBL went from reporting to reacting — and acting.

We combined our reporting and journalistic content of the refugee crisis with a hands-on activity to help out.

A campaign ad for "Recommend a Refugee," HBL’s creative initiative to break down cultural divides and connect refugees in Finland with job and social opportunities.
A campaign ad for "Recommend a Refugee," HBL’s creative initiative to break down cultural divides and connect refugees in Finland with job and social opportunities.

The fastest way to integrate foreigners is through work. So together with the Finnish Red Cross (SPR), HBL developed and launched an easy-to-use mobile service that connects employers with refugees looking for work.

We wanted to cover the refugee crisis in all ways possible. We wrote articles, and published videos and digital stories. We also collected useful information and links for our readers, enabling them with easy access to help and contribute in solving the crisis.

Further on to make a concrete action, we also created the “Recommend a Refugee” platform as a simple yet useful tool to help refugees and local companies find each other, giving refugees a first chance of finding a job, or even a short internship or job practice.

By helping refugees finding work, we contributed in integrating refugees to society, helped them to create useful professional contacts and networks, and gave them a chance to learn and practice their local language skills.

The the “Recommend a Refugee” tool helps refugees and local companies find each other.
The the “Recommend a Refugee” tool helps refugees and local companies find each other.

In the middle of an unprecedented refugee crisis, HBL, together with Finnish Red Cross and major Finnish employers, made Finns and foreigners useful to each other and became part of the national discourse.

We went from writing about the phenomenon to actually making a difference, while introducing an easy and creative way to help integrate refugees into work life in Finland. We started and contributed to an open dialogue about the topic and encouraged other companies to join the process.

For HBL, this initiative was an eye-opening experience in how to cooperate across the whole company, with different organisational functions such as marketing, sales, editorial, and newsroom participating for a common goal that also had its impact on society at large and help refugees find a second chance.