On 13-14 May 2013, the SHARE City Exchange Visit Programme welcomed a delegation of 9 participants from Finland to the UK, including representatives from the following organisations and institutions:
- Multicultural Centre Villa Victor (city of Oulu) - created in 2000, the centre is part of the city administration of Oulu and supports the integration of all foreigners - including resettled refugees - by providing advice, information, language courses and orientation assistance. Click here to download a copy of the presentation given by the delegates of the Multicultural Centre.
- Immigrant & Social Services (city of Tampere) - the city of Tampere's social services provide welfare and integration support for those from overseas settling in the city, including resettled refugees. Click here to view the presentation given by the representatives of the city of Tampere.
- Finnish Red Cross - works with local authorities and others in the reception of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants, including by recruiting volunteers to work with newcomers. The Finnish Red Cross also runs 9 asylum reception centres across Finland. Click here to view a copy of the presentation given by delegates from the Finnish Red Cross given in Sheffield.
- Ministry of Employment and Economy - oversees local integration arrangements for immigrants, including resettled refugees, at the national level. Receiving resettled refugees is voluntary for Finnish municipalities, and the Ministry also guides regional negotiations with municipalities on the numbers of refugees they will receive and the package of services they will provide for them. The Ministry is currently working on a project to consult on and review central government support for municipalities receiving resettled refugees.
On the morning of Day 1 of the programme, the delegation met with the city of Sheffield and its local resettlement partners to discuss their respective cities, their local resettlement programmes and the challenges and approaches to refugee integration and protection taken in their different contexts. The afternoon of Day 1 was hosted by Northern Refugee Centre, an independent charity providing direct assistance for refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants in the Yorkshire and Humber region, within which Sheffield is located. NRC introduced their advice and support services, including specific services for women and for those seeking employment, and introduced several of the civil society organisations with whom they work in partnership throughout the city. The day concluded with a civic reception and screening of the documentary film ‘Moving to Mars,’ that follows two Karen families resettled from Thailand to Sheffield in 2007.
On Day 2 of the programme, 4 delegates travelled to the city of Hull, where they were hosted by the NGO British Refugee Council. The delegation observed a regular planning and coordination meeting involving the Refugee Council resettlement team, local partners in health and education and wider stakeholders in the city. The afternoon included a presentation about the 12-month integration support programme provided to resettled refugees in Hull (as other UK resettlement towns and cities), and discussions with resettled refugees, community development workers and volunteers.
The remaining 5 delegates continued their programme in Sheffield on Day 2, where they observed and shadowed Refugee Council staff during a regular 'drop-in' advice session and an English language and basic computing skills class. The day concluded with a discussion about language-learning and general experiences of integration with staff from Refugee Council and the resettled refugees that they have or continue to support in Sheffield.