Social Impact Through Inclusion: The Case of De Voorkamer.
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This study attempts to understand the relationship between De Voorkamer (a community organisation in Utrecht, the Netherlands) and its community and how social impact is created through this interaction. This is done through ethnographic research paired with interviews conducted with organisational members, volunteers and participants of De Voorkamer’s events. In addition, visuals are used throughout to better depict the processes at play. The paper’s main findings suggest that the impact created through the relationship between De Voorkamer and its community is managed through a sense of inclusion and belonging within the space. Power dynamics play a role in this relationship since it determines the outcome of the inclusion and integration processes. De Voorkamer’s cocreation initiative was also seen as an empowering tool that creates a stronger bond with the organisation and a stronger sense of belonging. Social capital is also highlighted as a crucial ingredient for social impact, with the paper delving into how social capital is created through the inclusion process. Lastly, mental health benefits were a recurring theme within the paper as a spillover effect of the inclusion process. The paper goes into ways De Voorkamer can improve its social impact creation. Specifically by increasing the accessibility of information about events and programs and providing more formal education opportunities. De Voorkamer could also benefit from more intentional impact planning and evaluation to ensure its programs and activities meet the community’s needs. Overall, this study highlights the importance of community-led spaces like De Voorkamer for fostering inclusion and belonging among immigrants and refugees and strengthening ties within communities. De Voorkamer acts as a bridge between marginalised, disadvantaged groups and their social needs, which prevents them from the risk of social exclusion and the adverse outcomes which are associated with it. The study provides insights into how community-led spaces can empower marginalised communities and contribute to social and economic opportunities.