Innovation The UNHCR Workshop

Simplify the lives of asylum seekers

The UNHCR Workshop


UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency): work to ensure that everybody has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge, having fled violence, persecution, war or disaster at home.

The Welcome Card is a finalist in the What Design Can Do The Refugee Challenge 2016. The team behind the idea met and came up with the concept at the UNHCR Workshop held in Stockholm last year. The goal of 2017 is to pilot The Welcome Card and continue developing the idea.

The Welcome Card is a service that pairs a temporary ID card to a digital platform providing asylum seekers with information regarding their asylum application and access to publicly available services. The idea was developed at the UNHCR Workshop held in Stockholm last year.

The workshop was a collaboration between Transformator Design, UNHCR Northern Europe och UNHCR Innovation and the network What Design Can Do with the headline: The Refugee Challenge. The goal was to come up with game-changing yet feasible ideas how to help both refugees and cities to adapt to the new reality (read more about the challenge here). The challenge had more than 600 entries from all over the world and The Welcome Card was selected as one of the finalists.

The team behind The Welcome Card: Marie Lärka, Anna Holm, Anders Forsberg and Veronica Polinedrio. 

How would you describe your idea?
Marie Lärka: ”It’s a collaboration between a group of citizens, who came together with the scope of looking at the refugees and asylum seekers situation from another perspective and provide our ideas to make a change. We believe that change can occur from the bottom-up, informed citizen with courage and empathy can demand dignity for everyone and therefore make someone else’s life a bit better.”

How did you come up with the idea of a welcome card?
Veronica Polinedrio: ”When we met during the workshop in May, we used the human-centered design method to understand the challenges that asylum seekers and refugees face after arriving in Sweden/Europe and applying for their right of asylum.

We looked in particular at a way to utilize the long waiting period while waiting to receive an answer in a meaningful way. Although we started to look into ways to foster personal development, we realized through our interviews that asylum seekers already have the motivation to do so on their own. What they really lacked where the basic tools to access the resources that are already available: an I.D. number (personnummer) which opens the door to language courses, libraries, and other public services such as a permit to work and support oneself, and with that the finances to access public transportation and other services for the well-being and personal development of the self. The Welcome Card was born out of this understanding: that asylum seekers lack the basic tools we otherwise have access to.”

By temporary pair an ID card to a digital platform will help asylum seekers to access valuable information. 

What is the next step?
Anna Holm: ”Our goal for 2017 is to pilot a Welcome Card test in Stockholm, with the support of all stakeholders: the immigration authority for the individualized asylum application component, the city of Stockholm and surrounding municipalities for the public services, asylum seekers and civil society for integration and personal development. We will focus on providing access to an individualized, visually user-friendly asylum application platform next to the most needed publicly available service, public transportation.”

Anders Forsberg: ”We are now part of an accelerator program that supports us with experts in the fields of research and prototyping, law and intellectual property, financing, branding and storytelling to bring our project to reality. We also received 10.000 euro as an award and together with personal savings we will have enough founding to continue developing our idea and concept.”

How does it feel to be one of the finalists?
Veronica Polinedrio: ”For us, being one of the finalists makes us believe in the concept. We were able to bring a very human perspective of the asylum application process and asylum seekers’ reality to the eyes of our communities and we feel that with the recognition of the public this idea might be more than just a concept. Hopefully it will become a model for our societies to continue on emphasizing the importance of working together for the betterment of our social welfare.”

The people behind the idea of The Welcome Card are: Veronica Polinedrio (Experience Designer), Anders Forsberg (Migration Adviser), Anna Holm (UX Designer) and Marie Lärka (IT & Business Development Consultant). You can read more about the competition and the finalists here. Would you like to get in contact with the team? Please send email to: or follow them on Facebook