CROSS

CROSS-BORDER COOPERATION ON MENTORING AND PEER SUPPORT FOR IMMIGRANTS

IN A NUTSHELL

The overall aim of the ‘Cross-border cooperation on mentoring and peer support for immigrants’ project is to support unemployed less successfully integrated permanent residents of Estonia and people from Estonia who are living in Finland, as well as Estonian and Finnish organisations that are ready to hire people from different national backgrounds.

A survey, conducted as part of the project, mapped out the needs of  people from Estonia who are living and/or working in Finland (primarily in and around Helsinki) in order to better integrate into Finnish society. Based on the results of the survey a mentorship and a peer support group service will be offered to people from Estonia.

Also, during the project, a mentorship programme promoting the integration and employment of less successfully integrated permanent residents will be developed for Estonia on the basis of the Finnish programme FIKA.

Diversity-based activities will also be carried out for organisations in Estonia and Finland. With the help of these activities, the organisers aim to raise awareness of multicultural working environments, thereby leading to an increase in the willingness of organisations to recruit people of different nationalities.

PROJECT ACTIVITIES

Finland

  • Offering a peer support service to people from Estonia living and/or working in Finland
  • Carrying out and assessing a mentorship programme for people from Estonia
  • Launching diversity-based activities within work collectives

 

Estonia

  • Conducting a survey of people from Estonia living and/or working in Finland and analysing the results of similar surveys previously conducted in Estonia
  • Adapting, piloting and assessing a mentorship programme for less successfully integrated permanent residents who are unemployed
  • Launching diversity-based activities within work collectives

 

EXPECTED PROJECT RESULTS

  • Two mentorship programmes for less successfully integrated permanent residents who are unemployed have been carried out in Estonia. Peer support groups and a mentorship programme primarily for people from Estonia living in Finland have been set up and carried out in Finland. These activities have fostered the ability of the participants to cope on the labour market.
  • There is greater awareness of diversity in the workplace and organisations are more willing to hire people from different national backgrounds.

 

Amount of support: €140,457.85
Own contribution of MISA: €14,602.31

Own contribution of Luckan Integration: €19,237.15
Total value of project: €174,297.31

Term of project: 1 April 2016-31 March 2018

Implementation of the project is being financed by the INTERREG Central Baltic Sea Programme 2014-2020 of the European Regional Development Fund. The project’s partners are the ‘Our People’ Integration and Migration Foundation and Luckan Integration.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Lois Armas

Project coordinator
lois.armas@luckan.fi
(050) 3022346

 SPRING ACTIVITIES

During the spring, the project conducted two support groups with the aim of giving information and tools to Estonians living in the capital region. The project counted with a Estonian-speaking facilitator, Maive Saar, who was in charge of arranging the sessions. Her work, in the figure of a peer, proved to be of great value: by close communication and constant contact with the interested participants, she could identify their actual needs and wishes of topics they wanted to learn about, and she shaped the sessions according to this information.

This is a real successful example on the importance of peer support in a pilot project: initially, the survey had identified specific needs in terms of what the Estonian participants needed and wanted support with. By contacting them, the facilitator could expand on the topics of interest for them, and make an even more comprehensive schedule.

The first group had seven participants and met during eight weeks. This group had job search and employment as a specific theme. Every weekly meeting addressed carefully this topic: the group worked several times and in depth on their CV, they had a preparation session on how to go to an interview and had the visit of experts in the field who provided accurate information regarding the job seeking process, formal tools to have at hand and organisations and unions that protect the worker.

Maive, as a facilitator, took care of being in constant touch with them during the meetings but also afterwards, asking and taking into consideration the participants’ feedback. This was overall positive, and it showed once again that even with a simple session on working together on a CV, this is uplifting, encouraging and empowering. There is also the component of working in a group, in where participants get support, feedback and perspective.

The second group had a looser format, since this was also gathered from the participants’ feedback: people have jobs to attend, children to care for, and other leisure activities that they want to be part of. Even if the majority of times a peer support group requires for participants to commit, there has to be flexibility in this requirement, and precisely accommodating this need proved to be quite successful. The facilitator, in cooperation with the rest of the project team, organised “open theme evenings” that functioned as peer support encounters in where a different variety of themes were discussed based on the upcoming needs of the participants- Themes ranged from learning about health services in the capital region from an expert in the field, job seeking tools, and watching and discussing a documentary on Finnish history. The group met four times and participation ranged from 6 to 10 people attending.

Overall, this first part of the project has benefited the participants in giving more information and tools on different topics. It has created for them a wider network of support, and it has also given Luckan insight of how a peer support group can be executed in different ways, from more commitment to more flexibility.