In English
9.10.2015

The University is taking steps towards helping asylum seekers

Aino Heikkonen
On Wednesday 7 October, Edu´s Café filled up with University community members wishing to help asylum seekers.

Text: Aino Heikkonen
Translation: Camilla Kiviaho

People at the University of Tampere are now trying to think of ways in which the University could help asylum seekers. On Wednesday 7 October, the University hosted a discussion event titled Helping asylum seekers and the University of Tampere – What can we do?, officially in Finnish Turvapaikanhakijoiden auttaminen ja Tampereen yliopisto – mitä voimme tehdä?.

A few dozen interested people gathered for the event at Edu’s Café in the University’s Virta building to discuss matters related to relief work. The participants included both students and staff of the University. At the event, the representatives of the City of Tampere and the Finnish Red Cross provided information on the possibilities of becoming a volunteer. One place where the Red Cross needs helping hands at the moment is Hervanta, where volunteers can help to sort out donated clothes.

“We need the help of both individuals and groups at the sorting centre. For example student associations could form volunteer groups”, notes Hanne-Miia Ollikainen from the Häme district of the Finnish Red Cross.

Both the City of Tampere and the Finnish Red Cross need volunteers to organize activities for asylum seekers. Marja Nyrhinen, Head Coordinator of Immigration Affairs at the City of Tampere, emphasizes that many of the asylum seekers in the emergency shelters are educated people from urban areas, who need social activities. To Nyrhinen, these activities could include English-language discussion groups or walking tours.

In addition to distributing information on different forms of voluntary work, the aim of Wednesday’s event was to gather ideas on what the University community could do to help asylum seekers on a wider scale. One good example is provided by the University of Turku that is developing a special support programme for asylum seekers. Among other things, the support programme includes language and cultural training as well as continuing education.

During the event, many ideas were brought up for discussion. Among other things, it was suggested that researchers who have left their home country could be invited to deliver guest lecturers, and that the University could organize a lecture series for the asylum seekers on the Finnish language and society and engage students as volunteers to teach them Finnish.

The event was organized by Campus Journalist Taina Repo and University Lecturer Miia Collanus. The ideas collected at the event were passed on to the University administration. According to Repo, the reception was positive.

 

You can sign up as a volunteer at the Finnish Red Cross sorting centre via this online form.

Further information on the multiculturalism activities of the Finnish Red Cross.

Further information on volunteer work at the City of Tampere.

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