SPIRIT Project – Finnish Red Cross
Type of Information
Finnish Red Cross
Hanna Holm (Login to send email)
Contact Person Function
The Spirit project, led by the Finnish Red Cross, encourages municipalities to be more open to receive refugees by confronting negative attitudes towards foreigners and raising community awareness on refugees. To do this, the project has developed and implemented civic engagement through volunteer activities for refugee reception and integration, promoted cooperation between local NGOs and authorities and clarified stakeholders’ mandates and responsibilities.
The project has developed guidelines for volunteer activities in reception centres, established a volunteer network and developed ongoing support activities for refugees in the cities they are accommodated. The project has reached out to the media through awareness raising events in schools and information seminars on resettlement for municipalities. A reception training package for public use has been developed, directed to municipalities, schools and other relevant stakeholders. The training package raises awareness on the problems refugees face and how to best respond to their needs.
Issue/Challenge and Goal/Assumption
With regard to Identifying the need: In Finland , there is no obligation for municipalities to receive resettled refugees in their communities. Satakunta, a Finnish District, noticed that mainly due to an increase in asylum seeker numbers, fewer localities were willing to take part in resettling refugees. This lack of available spaces in municipalities has created a backlog in the resettlement process, with refugees staying longer in the country of asylum, (up to 2 years) and, upon arrival spending longer periods in a reception centre – waiting to be accommodated in municipalities. These delays are preventing refugees’ integration, and increasing the exposure to risks in the country of asylum.
Those municipalities, who were participating in accepting resettled refugees, were not highly active in community development activities with the group and Red Cross itself did not have much experience in this area. Additionally, it was important to combat the negative opinions of refugees and other foreigners in Finland, held by the media and public opinion.
How does it work
Working with cities was challenging due to the highly politicised arena, with upcoming elections (spring 2011), in particular a right wing party with anti immigration policies was gaining much support. In addition the project was covering a large geographical area requiring extensive travel. There were also major delays in light of the slow municipal administration.
- Increased awareness of the integration practices provided by The Finnish Red Cross
- New SPR-volunteers working with the refugees (around 100 / the Spirit project area)
- New action groups (around 10 / the Spirit project area)
- Available resources: feedback forms, interviews etc.
- Evaluation is carried out by the Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK) and will be available at 11/2011
Who will benefit?
- refugees, officials, SPR volunteers, NGOs, networks
- Expected coverage of the programme in terms of the number of persons reached: 10 000
Source of funding and Resources used
a) European Refugee Fund (50%)
b) Regional Councils of Satakunta, Häme, South-West Finland (Varsinais-Suomi) and Tampere Region (Pirkanmaa) (40%)
c) Finnish Red Cross / Satakunta, Häme and Varsinais-Suomi Districts (10%)
- total budget 260 000 (EUR)
- Number and type of workers needed: 2 workers, project coordinator & project worker