March 03 2016
By Nicole Andreou

Mads Nygaard

As co-founder of Venligboerne, Mads Nygaard will share the story of how 485 refugees came to a small town in Jutland and changed the way integration has to work in Denmark. He invites us to reconsider the importance of voluntary work and its impact on society.


“There was a complete lack of shared responsibility when asylum seekers moved into the local communities” says Mads.

Venligboerne, or Friendly Neighbours, is a network of volunteers and refugees who inspire and help each other. It started in autumn 2014, just as the refugee crisis intensified. The movement has built up groups of volunteers that help newcomers adjust and feel welcome in Danish local communities. When asylum seekers enter asylum centres or obtain residency in a municipality, they do not have a network, but Venligboerne has organised one ready and willing to help them and to take responsibility.

From the town of Hjørring, the movement spread quickly via social media. The Facebook group counts more than 40,000 members in Copenhagen alone. The initiative has gained large recognition and a professor from Yale University has even submitted a nomination for Venligboerne to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.


Mads Nygaard’s talk will not only focus on this beautiful story of solidarity; it will be a call for mobilisation. Mads is challenging us to go out and do something. Whether it is engaging in voluntary work or just getting someone a cup of coffee, he believes that people can make a difference. So, do not miss his talk at TEDxCopenhagen’s 2016 Main Event on April 7th!


- By Jasmine Crozier


Mads Nygaard is a writer, curious by nature. He worked for an asylum centre in Hjørring, where, along with 8 others, he co-founded the Venligboerne movement.

Links: forfatter-mads-nygaard.dkFacebook.

Venligboerne København og omegn