Helsingborg International Connections
Sally Russell, Co-Founder
HIC’s journey from friends’ initiative to established local presence has been the story of many a social entrepreneur. It was an instinctive personal response to a societal challenge, in our case working out how to welcome, support and inform local international talent whose competence could otherwise be lost. A strong network, Jenny Wieslander Chandler and Sally Russell concluded, was the key to successful integration and a powerful weapon against the isolation, depression and
malaise affecting many internationals struggling to get to grips with their new environment.
Much brainstorming, late nights and discussions over coffee led to the creation of HIC in 2013, Jenny focusing on its social media channels because of her background in communications and Sally working on the website content due to her knowledge of Wordpress. A shared experience of living abroad whether as a student, intern, employee, small business owner, wife or mother gave both women a firm grasp of the issues involved and a determination to “make life happen” for others in the same situation.
HIC was launched early in 2014 with a party attended by friends and supporters. A social gathering at a pub in town and their first formal event, Business and Networking in Sweden, soon followed. The following months saw HIC present their concept to the local kommun, organise interesting events in Helsingborg, Lund and Malmö, develop links with Lund University and Region Skåne and reach out to local entrepreneurs and networks, all the time creating meaningful connections for HIC
and its members.
The value of this work was recognised by the kommun through their provision of office space, refreshments and a venue to hold events. New opportunities called for Jenny in the form of an exciting position in digitalisation and energy, while Sally continued to work with HIC. In 2017, a formal offer was made to provide funding to HIC, support which allows a part-time salary for one person and covers running costs in return for organising 12 events per year, running a weekly drop-
in session and assisting international masters’ students on their arrival to Campus Helsingborg. The actual number of events is much higher, probably because we enjoy the work so much!
As we say at HIC, “one thing always leads to another”, so it was a series of HIC connections that led to Sally applying to the SoPact Accelerator Program in Autumn 2017. SoPact’s emphasis on sustainability and helping social entrepreneurs to become sustainable themselves made it possible to clearly define HIC’s work as part of a much bigger picture, understand how its activities related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and recognise the value of collaboration with others.
The encouragement and clarification received through the SoPact program gave HIC renewed purpose and Sally the decision to leave her part-time job at ISH in order to focus entirely on HIC. 2018 was a year of strong growth with many new events and attendees, two study trips abroad, participation in conferences on social innovation and international talent, and a great deal of inspiration. But one person can’t do everything, despite their best intentions! A long-held notion of “getting some volunteers” finally turned into reality in 2019 and is already changing the way HIC thinks and works.
We are very excited to see where this initiative will take us and welcome you to join us!
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