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Did you know?

Various studies have found the need for case management when dealing with youth mental health.

  • 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24.
  • 10% of children and young people (aged 5-16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental problem
  • 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.

Source: www.mentalhealth.org.uk

Mental Health

Based on a study conducted by PHE, findings in 2012/13 saw an estimated £700m being spent on child and adolescent mental health illness.

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Taff Housing Association is one of 3 long established community based HAs in Cardiff, we’re 41 years old this year! 41 years and we find ourselves at the beginning of another transformation journey. A journey which has several key pillars – these include leadership, innovation, collaboration and working smarter with the resources we have.
A Guest Blog from Elaine Ballard, Chief Executive of Taff Housing Association | As featured in Welsh Housing Quarterly

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We’re re-posting a blog into the work of UNHCR Innovation. Here Lauren Parater identifies essential resources for a design thinker.


Original Article by Lauren Parater, Associate Innovation Engagement Officer, UNHCR Innovation


7 essential resources for a design thinker


I’m not the average person who would be interested in purchasing the newest edition of the Harvard Business Review but walking around the airport in September, the newest addition caught my eye. The title of the September 2015 issue was The Evolution of Design Thinking and immediately I was intrigued and branded it my flight reading material. As an advocate for the use of design thinking principles, I was impressed to see such a human-centred approach being highlighted in Harvard’s corporate public fora.


Design thinking at its core is about empathy with users, a discipline in prototyping, and a tolerance of failure. This approach has been championed by those focusing on product design, but in more recent years this approach has been adapted to everything from corporate consulting to how governments interact with citizens and how we deliver humanitarian aid. There has been an undeniable shift and it’s hard to ignore the benefits of incorporating design thinking into our process. And no I’m not just saying this because the Harvard Business Review is now behind the idea. We’ve witnessed how these tools can transform the user experience and can create successful models to examine complex problems.


You’ll see on the front page of this website the quote “UNHCR Innovation partners with people inside and outside of UNHCR to innovate with and for refugees.”  That second with is very important and at the core of our mission to keep our end users (refugee and displaced communities) at the centre of the design process.


Evidently, design thinking is here to stay. It has the potential to grow past an approach associated just with products and (now) corporate strategies. If incorporating these principles into the humanitarian sector is as successful as we hope, design thinking will transform into a powerful tool for social good.


For those of you unfamiliar with the approach, I’ve rounded up seven essential resources for anyone interested in becoming a design thinker.


A virtual crash course in design thinking in 90 minutes

Instead of binge-watching your new favourite show, why don’t you take a 90 minute deep dive into the innovation process? This virtual crash course uses videos, handouts, and facilitation tips to take you step-by-step through the process of hosting or participating in a design challenge.


The crash course is a product of Stanford’s D-School and you don’t need any previous design experience to enrol in the virtual crash course. After 90 minutes, you’re expected to take away a basic understanding of the principles of design thinking and start to adapt them into your personal and professional routines.


I’m not the creative type: You can prototype anything

People are sometimes confused about prototyping and the innovation process. This short zine was created by a few designers in New York to help explain the nuances of the prototyping process in a way that is interesting and useful. The first addition of I’m not the creative type is a space for those unfamiliar with the prototyping process to let loose and better understand how you can really prototype anything.


Please continue to full article where Lauren identifies 5 further essential resources for a design thinker including several toolkits that have already been utilised for transformative design, enhancing the lives of millions.




We’re re-posting a blog into the work of UNHCR Innovation. Here Chris Earney gives background to Innovation in the humanitarian sector, the work of UNHCR and how technology can help.


Original Article by Chris Earney, Co-Lead, UNHCR Innovation


Managing innovation is terrifying

It’s terrifying for many different reasons, but here I’ll just outline four:


  1. Expectations are huge;
  2. Resistance to change is not insignificant;
  3. The need for innovation in our sector is not small;
  4. You have to manage people.


There’s been a load of research carried out on the need for innovation in the humanitarian world. Lots of private sector examples that we can’t (realistically) follow, lots of commiserations, and cathartic conversations with colleagues across the sector who have also been charged with driving innovation.  But now it seems that there has been enough of a push, and innovation is here to stay…at least for a while.

Innovation is the focus of the fourth pillar of the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 and is also on the radar of the UN Secretary General. Needless to say, it is now an area of focus and a recognised need.  There are good practices, good examples, and an increasing amount of data and information on Things That Worked and, more importantly, Things That Didn’t.  We’re now – as a sector – in more of a position to talk about innovation in that mystical place we call ‘The Field’.  But now that it’s moved beyond a buzzword, and is now actually becoming a practice, these are the questions we now face:


How do we manage it?

Why should we manage it?

Can it be managed?

And what would that look like?


For our team, the ‘management’ of innovation focused primarily on getting UNHCR Innovation off the ground.  This was painful, and it was extremely hard work.  We needed to have a strategy in place, we needed projects, we needed the ever elusive ‘Quick Wins’, and we needed co-opters within the organisation.  To add to all of that, we needed projects on the ground to verify, justify, and prove the theory and rhetoric.

There’s still a lot of the above to do – don’t get me wrong – but we’re now in the position of needing to manage a set of processes that we put in place over the course of the past two years.  We have Innovation Labs – a virtual and real ‘safe space’ for experimentation. We also have Innovation Fellows, an Innovation Fund that provides a budget for operations that want to prototype some of their ideas, an Innovation Circle, that consists of external friends, advisors, and supporters from a range of academic and corporate sector entities, and now, an Engagement and Communications pillar.  Each of these pillars of our work needs to be managed as a service to an organisation spanning 124 countries, over 8,500 staff and affiliates, and works with and for over 50 million displaced people. Managing this is not easy.  And managing a team to run this is not easy.


Please continue to full article where Chris identifies UNHCR’s challenges in Innovation and how technology can help.


— full article —



Understanding the processes of refugee and humanitarian innovation and the constraints and opportunities experienced in ‘bottom-up’ problem-solving has far-reaching implications for humanitarian practice.

Last month we participated in National Refugee Week 2015, celebrating the creativity, contribution and resilience of refugees in the UK.

Whilst blogging and sharing examples that are testament to this, we highlighted our involvement. (Here’s a link to our Refugee Week!)

We highlighted the focus for public sector bodies in the UK to ensure people, process and technology are lined up to deliver a more citizen-centred service and improve joined up working in society. Partner agencies and support services provide coordinated assistance for refugees in order to provide them with opportunities to achieve a better life in their new surroundings. There is a need for various support service providers and agencies to work more collaboratively on one secured platform to support refugees in overcoming challenges from cultural barriers to finding resettlement.

Please look through our #RefugeeWeek blog postings…

Refugee Week was an inspiring week for us and it was wonderful to see how so many shared in the celebration of the contribution of refugees in the UK. We’d like to share with you a recent report from Oxford Universities Refugees Studies Centre; a global leader in multidisciplinary research on forced migration. It’s a fascinating insight into human innovation for Refugee communities focusing not only on displacement but through to resettlement. Additionally, read our feature on the Somali Community in Cardiff.


Refugee Innovation: Humanitarian Innovation that Starts with Communities

About the Report: Even under the most challenging constraints, people find ways to engage in creative problem-solving. Refugees, displaced persons, and others caught in crisis often have skills, talents, and aspirations that they draw upon to adapt to difficult circumstances.

On July 17th, we launched the report “Refugee Innovation: Humanitarian Innovation that Starts with Communities” which focuses on examples and case studies of ‘bottom-up innovation’ among different refugee populations. This report takes you on a journey – from Jordan to South Africa to Uganda to Kenya to the United States. We look at a range of refugee situations, drawing upon examples from different stages of the ‘refugee cycle’: recent mass influx, protracted situations, and resettled refugee populations.

Understanding the processes of refugee innovation and the constraints and opportunities experienced in ‘bottom-up’ problem-solving also has far-reaching implications for humanitarian practice.



Alexander Betts, Director Refugee Studies Centre and Humanitarian Innovation Project

Louise Bloom, Research Officer, Humanitarian Innovation Project

Nina Weaver, Research Coordinator, Humanitarian Innovation Project Report

Further Information:

Refugee Studies Centre – Oxford University

Image Gallery

All this week we’ve been celebrating and highlighting the contributions of Refugees in the UK in our support of Refugee Week. We’ve been conscious to use channels that allow for visual information to best describe circumstance, real life and empowering stories with content driven through blogs and social media. We’ve selected key messages that are short and easy to understand and we’ve looked to inform in ways that both celebrate contribution but also highlight the plight of refugees.

The reach of media through increased channels allows for massive opportunity to communicate a message, however the skill often lies in keeping that message clear, concise and engaging. We’ve also taken the opportunity to look at some of the methods being applied in campaigns to address international crises, be it with intent to raise awareness or direct funds.

One such campaign is the White Helmets in Syria. ‘After the bombs go off in Syria, the White Helmets go in’ This volunteer group tries to rescue survivors from the rubble of explosions. With limited training and few supplies, they are often the only resource for the injured in an attack. Though difficult work, it is sometimes miraculous.

We’ve highlighted examples of the content used to promote this campaign. It’s emotive and effective in outlining the cause in the most striking terms. In truth, ‘deep’ analysis of the methods they’ve used isn’t required, the core is in story telling and less statistical. What do you think?



Rita Ora is an award winning singer, songwriter and actress. She was born in the capital of Kosovo and left her family when she was one years old. A Kosovo refugee, Perhaps it was this drive alongside obvious talent that has dictated her success.


‘That word [refugee] carries a lot of prejudice but it also made us determined to survive. When you put anyone into an alien environment, where other people aren’t completely comfortable with them being there, they are automatically going to be defensive. It’s the rule of the jungle, right?’


In this interview with the BBC, Rita explains her transition from refugee to chart reign. Rita also highlights the sacrifices made by her family ensuring her safety and enabling her to realise her talent. It’s an inspiring story and it’s so apparent that hard work and determination can get you anywhere once safety is ensured. (Interview starts at 1:45)



All this week we’ve been highlighting the challenges faced, as well as celebrating the contributions of refugees in the UK and we’d encourage you to visit the ‘Traces Project’, commissioned by Counterpoint Arts. It’s brief is ‘An untold history of contributions to arts and culture from men and women who have sought safety in the UK from conflict and persecution’. It’s a digital timeline that brilliantly captures individuals contributions and displays the diversity and breadth contribution to art & culture in the UK.

The Traces Project tells of the previously untold history through the prism of arts, culture and creativity. It highlights how artists and practitioners who have sought safety from conflict and persecution have hugely contributed to everyday life in the UK, enhancing a national sense of collective well being.

The Somali community in Cardiff has the largest British-born Somali population in the UK. They were originally drawn to Cardiff as seamen at the end of the 19th century, shortly after the opening of the Suez canal, to work in the thriving docks. These young men came not as refugees but as sailors driven by the desire to earn money to buy more livestock back in Somali. Some settled down and married local women, whilst others returned home periodically to visit families.

Due to Britain’s colonial presence in Somaliland it was possible for sailors to work and live in the UK. There was usually plenty of work available for the seamen in the docks, and later in the steel industry. They were often filling jobs that the white workers didn’t want, whether on the tramp steamers where working conditions were tough, or in the merchant navy during World War One when white British seamen were transferred to the Royal Navy.

It was not an easy life, and times of economic crisis could spell disaster; the Great Depression saw hundreds of Somali sailors dying from starvation through lack of work.

Take a look at this brilliant feature from the BBC in which thirty years after the Falklands War, merchant seamen from Cardiff recalled sailing thousands of miles with the British task force to help re-take the islands from Argentina.


Watch more video from the Staff Picks channel on Frequency

Source : BBC Article Image : BBC

During the 1980’s and 1990’s, the civil war in Somalia led to a large number of Somali immigrants, comprising the majority of the current Somali population in the UK. Many of the refugees were not men, but women and children whose men had either been killed or had stayed in Somalia to fight, changing the Somali settlement from one of single seamen to that of refugee communities.

Somali refugees, who have arrived in the past 20 years and now make up the majority of the community both in Cardiff and nationwide, often feel lost in modern Britain. The Cardiff seamen, who established the largest British-born Somali community in the UK, feel quite at home.

Given the influx of Somali refugees within the 20 years; arriving often penniless, traumatised and unable to speak English, the presence of tradition and community has lead to an increased optimism for this generation of Somalis in Cardiff.

To get a sense of the optimism held for the future generations of Somali’s I would encourage you to read this rather brilliant article from the Guardian. In this article, Abdi Sugulle manager of Red Sea House, identifies some of the ways in which the new generation of Somali’s have established themselves in Cardiff. Guardian Article – Somalis in Cardiff Additionally, here’s a video profile of Red Sea House produced by Taff Housing Association, in which alongside the importance, the history and future of this community supported housing scheme is examined.

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