Towards Comprehensive Integration
Helsinki – Over 500 participants from all across Finland have attended training about the resettlement of quota refugees. The Refugee’s Journey to Municipality (RJM) Training was organized 12 times in total during 2021. The training was implemented as 2–3-hour webinars in cooperation with local and thematical integration specialists. Altogether, 515 basic service professionals, NGO actors, TE Services and Kela experts, police officers, volunteer workers, teachers, early childhood educators, housing clerks and church employees have participated. In early 2022, another six training sessions will be held for example in Savo and Häme regions, Central Finland, Pirkanmaa region as well as in Lohja and Kirkkonummi.
“Professionals from many different sectors have an impact on integration. It is therefore important to provide multiprofessional basic training about integration. Shared understanding about resettlement of refugees supports comprehensive integration in municipalities,” says trainer and Project Specialist Minna Savolainen about the benefits of Refugee’s Journey to Municipality Training.
The RJM Training provides basic information and an overview of the resettlement of quota refugees to Finland and of their reception in municipalities. In the multiprofessional training, people working in different sectors learn to see the importance of their own professional role in promoting integration. The goal is that after the training, the participants better understand what resettlement means and how they may support integration in their own day-to-day work.
Integration requires building trust
When meeting a person who has fled war, conflict and persecution, building trust is crucial. Therefore, it is essential to realize the importance of each and every encounter. All professionals working in basic services have a part to play in supporting integration and in building trust toward the service, the municipality and the new home country overall. The RJM training is not based on educating about cultural differences but rather emphasizing our shared humanity.
The anonymously collected feedback from the participants has been positive. What, then, has been the key takeaway according to them?
“The reminder of the importance of trust and the fact that people in the position of a refugee often trust particularly nurses and doctors, and therefore in my own work I am able to greatly impact upon building that trust, and bridges, perhaps even towards several directions.”
Integration takes place in human interaction
The role of language and communication as a vital tool for professionals is highlighted in the training. Along with public service interpreting, it is good to note that in the beginning of integration, people do not have knowledge of the Finnish society or the Finnish or Swedish language.
“One should not assume that things have been understood but rather verify and ensure that the other person has actually understood what I am talking about.”
Consequently, the meaning of words we use is not shared. An “official” does not necessarily mean a trustworthy person to someone with a refugee background, a “recess” or “rain overalls” are not familiar concepts, a “complaint” does not equate to a written procedure. Particularly professional terminology and various types of services are impossible to understand unless they are explained. Listening is also a key component of successful interaction.
The infographic Quota Refugees Journey to Finland and Home Municipality is used as training material in the sessions. The hope is that as many experts and trainers as possible would utilize both the material and the training model to organize similar training sessions independently, for example in cooperation between municipalities and different organizations and associations.
“An exceptionally well-implemented training overall. The informational content was concise, it was presented well, and I discovered a lot of additional material to support my work.”
The RJM Training sessions are being organized as part of the Navigator 2.0 project, implemented by the Finnish Refugee Council in partnership with IOM Finland. The project is funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) of the European Union.
The training which was developed during the previous Navigator project (2018–2021) included a presentation given by an expert by experience who had first-hand experience of the integration process. They contributed both in the planning and implementation of the training. The programme of the RJM training can be modified to meet local needs and to include a presentation by an expert by experience on integration. More information, in Finnish, can be found in the project’s evaluation report. The summary and recommendations are located on pages 15–16.
Stay informed about all the activities, news and materials of Navigator 2.0 with the project's newsletter (in English, Swedish and Finnish). Subscribe to the newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/hGMcvL.
All questions and queries about the training can be sent to Minna Savolainen (firstname.lastname@example.org) in Finnish or English.