Using innovation to build Muslim Resource Centre’s next stage

January 15
By Sean Meyer
Mohammed Baobaid founded the Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration (MRCSSI) some 10 years ago, but recently he decided to begin looking at what direction to head in next.
To achieve this, Mohammed, who is also MRCSSI’s executive director, started looking at developing an opportunity to transfer and mobilize knowledge — as it relates to his 15 years of working between London’s ethno-cultural communities and the providers of mainstream services. 
That process got a jump start following a conversation with Michelle Baldwin, executive director of the Pillar Nonprofit Network.
“I met with Michelle several months back and I told her about my idea. She said this is really social innovation. I know a bit about that, but not a lot,” Mohammed said. “She said I should use the social innovation language. I started to look at what I’m trying to do through this lens and it made sense. Social innovation, social enterprise, is trying to be a bridge between the business world and the not-for-profit sector. That’s exactly what I’m trying to do, not to gain money or profit, but to try and instill some sustainability.”
That conversation led Mohammed to taking on a flex desk at Innovation Works, which would provide him with the space he needed to focus on his new project.
More importantly, it gave him a place to work outside of the MRCSSI’s office.
Since October 2018, Mohammed has now come to Innovation Works twice a week to work on his project, an experience he said has proven “very valuable.”
Within the shared space he can connect with people, something he admits has worked particularly well. 
“I honestly didn’t expect I would really benefit from it. Even when I usually work on the third floor when it is quieter, you can come down (to the first floor) and it is bright and open and everyone is doing something,” he said. “I can go from a desk to the couch, maybe read, rest, think, it really works well because it allows me to take that break and think. I have already established some great connections.”
After almost 10 years, Mohammed realized MRCSSI isn’t only providing community based services, it’s doing the work of multiple organizations.
Not only does it work on innovative, community based services — in particular, responding to the needs of newcomers — but it also conducts research and helps build capacity. 
The research component is really his area, and is where Mohammed has done a lot of his work. The reason he decided to roll with this change is he wanted to reflect on the journey, to look at what we MRCSSI has learned from its approach, its services, and could maybe be transferred or replicated by other communities. 
In addition, he wants to be able to inform other service agencies as to how they can be more culturally informed and relevant, in their services. 
His role, hopefully, will be to write down his thoughts, create training models, maybe craft some sort of papers for policy makers, and then perhaps help establish a centre of excellence for cultural integrated response.
In the last three months, Mohammed said he has seen real movement towards his goals.
Although only in the early stages, being at Innovation Works is something he said has helped him in envisioning the ultimate goal. 
“What is helpful, I’ve been able to be connected with the right people to help me on my journey to my end goal,” he said. “What’s really interesting here is the internal support. You can get a lot of that here.”
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