Many people want to be voluntarily involved in supporting and helping asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants so that they can integrate into the new environment. Voluntary work can be carried out in such organisations as the Finnish Red Cross and the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare, which provide opportunities for voluntary activities in different parts of Finland.
In accordance with the policies of the organisations, individuals can establish local action groups if they do not yet exist in the locality. Large organisations are often able to support their own volunteers by providing them with training and work guidance support.
Organisations have accumulated a great deal of expertise and good practices in integration work, and they have off-the-shelf operating concepts and materials. Organisations can also support their volunteers through recreational activities. Volunteers in other municipalities can provide peer support.
One can also establish a new association to organise activities. In this case, the laws and regulations applying to the establishment of an association and action plans should be complied with. One should also first determine whether similar activities are already being carried out in other organisations or by the authorities. In some municipalities, the immigration coordinator, the official coordinating voluntary activities or other municipal employees coordinate voluntary activities supporting immigrant integration.
As a representative of an underage asylum seeker, your task is to supervise the interests of the child in the asylum process
Under the Act on the Integration of Immigrants and Reception of Asylum Seekers, a representative must be appointed for an unaccompanied underage asylum seeker. The representative is responsible for supervising the interests of the child during asylum and family reunification processes and in other legal matters concerning the child’s person and assets.
Provisions on the eligibility and duties of a representative of an underage asylum seeker and on releasing a representative from their duties are laid down in the Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration and the Act on the Reception of Persons applying for International Protection.
If you are interested in acting as a representative of an underage asylum seeker, see the Competent representative training package.
If you work as a volunteer, make sure that you can cope with your tasks
Traumatic issues may have taken place in the lives of asylum seekers and refugees who have moved to Finland and these matters may not yet have been fully processed. They may be worried about their family members left behind or living in other countries. In addition, life in a new country often appears uncertain. Residence permit processes also cause stress.
The worries of the immigrants may be a recurring theme when they meet outsiders and the matters may also burden the minds of the volunteers. It is important to refer the individuals to the parties tasked with dealing with matters that are not the volunteers’ responsibility (such as the authorities or health and social services). It is also important to try to draw limits to how much support one can provide and to what extent one can absorb concerns or sorrow. One must take care of one’s own wellbeing and also do things that make you feel good.