Volunteering supports integration
Around 30,000 Ukrainian children and adults have arrived in Finland this year. They have been forced to come to a foreign country. Finland is home also for many people of other nationalities. Fortunately, our country has a system run by the authorities that is responsible for integration and helps immigrants to adapt and function in their new society. Organisations also play an important role in turning a foreign country into a home.
In addition to formal integration measures, a wider support network is necessary. It is important to support people to be active themselves. Integration is best promoted in everyday situations and in local communities.
There are numerous associations and other bodies in Finland that provide environments for people of all ages to get involved and participate. At the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare (MLL), we have noticed how important meeting places and events are for families with children as a way of helping them to integrate into Finnish society. These activities provide an opportunity to get to know other people and services in the community, as well as something fun to do and people to talk to. Participation also helps to discover places where one can be active and do volunteer work.
Volunteering benefits both the volunteer and the recipient. It increases people’s sense of inclusion and meaning and helps them to get to know others. Volunteering strengthens self-image and identity. Many people choose to volunteer because they want to help others and work for a cause they care about.
Everyone can volunteer with the skills that they have. Every volunteer’s work is valuable. Not having a language in common is not a barrier to volunteering, as there are many different types of volunteering tasks and there are other ways of communicating than speaking. Expressions and gestures say more than a thousand words. Sharing joy and sorrow makes life easier and humane.
The main reason why someone doesn’t volunteer is because they have not been asked. I now invite you to join us as a volunteer and you can also invite someone you know. At MLL we have just launched the Meidän MLL campaign and are looking for new volunteers to join us across the country. Everyone can contribute.
Head of Development, Family Centre Activities