”A friend for an immigrant mum” work started on the International Women’s Day in 2016 in Satakunta. The purpose of the work is to find Finnish speaking women to be friends with immigrant women. The aim of the work is to promote acculturation, Finnish language skills and extend social networks of the immigrant women. In Satakunta, the Northern Satakunta area and Pori have been the pilot areas of the work. The organization behind this work is Mannerheim League for Child Welfare (MLL) Satakunta District.
The Finnish speaking volunteer women will have an introductory training for the volunteer work. Each friendship will be started with a meeting in which an immigrant woman, a Finnish speaking volunteer and the coordinator of MLL are present. After that, friends will decide together where and how often they meet. The children are welcomed to take part in the meetings. MLL offers follow-up training, support and get-togethers for the women. Volunteers report about the meetings regularly.
So far, immigrant women who have been interested in the work are from 19 different countries. The work has started very well. The volunteer women are from different municipal corporations of Satakunta. The women who take part in the activity are between the ages of 19 and 77. In 2017, the work will be extended to Middle Satakunta region and the city of Rauma.
The roots of the ”Friend for an immigrant mum” work are in MLL Uusimaa District, where the work started in 2011. After that, other MLL Districts have also adopted the work all over Finland. In Satakunta, the co-operators of the work are The Multicultural Association of Satakunta, Redcross Satakunta, Municipality coalition for providing basic services of Northern Satakunta, City of Pori, Medivida Oy , Reception centre for migrants in Kankaanpää, Municipality coalition of Middle Satakunta and the city of Rauma. The main funding for the work in Satakunta comes from RAY (Finland’s Slot Machine Association). It is very important to find new financial sources for the integration work in the future.
Author: Sarianne Taipalus, coordinator of MLL for ”Friend for an immigrant mum”.