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17.7.2018 10.00

Active Refugees in the Community project creates new practical activating methods for immigrants

Central Baltic Interreg programme is funding Active Refugees in the Community project (ARC), which aims at preventing social problems and isolation of immigrants with refugee background in Finland and Sweden through engaging them in motivating meaningful activities and interaction with the local society and thus enhance their job creation skills, integration to the society, language skills and wellbeing.

The project works in a cross-border co-operation between Finland and Sweden. Finnish and Swedish immigrants participating in the project will share their personal challenges and success stories via regular video blog and thus enable also the local community to better understand the immigrants and their individual journeys.

The partners implementing the project are Tampere Region Martha Association (Martat) and Tampere Region Design Association Modus in Finland (Modus) and Institute of Swedish Safety & Security (ISSS) in Sweden. Tampere Region Martha Association as the lead partner manages the project and carries out the gardening and household guidance lessons and the cultural events organized in the project. Design association Modus contributes its design skills to develop a safe and equal society in Finland and Sweden. Modus develops the urban gardening activities in cooperation with Pirkanmaan Martat and ISSS. Institute of Swedish Safety & Security contributes its experiences to cultivation activities with immigrants and pilots a concept ”Seed 2 Pot 2 People”. ISSS also takes part in developing new cultivation activities with Tampere Region Martha Association and Modus. In 2015, the ISSS created the ’RIM Program’ (Refugee and Migrant Mobilization Program) to assist with the integration of refugees and migrants in to local communities, of which the experiences are used also in ARC project.

During the first implementation period, in Tampere, Finland, the ARC project has recruited 8 families with refugees background to get involved in the project activities. Weekly gardening and household guidance events have been organized as well as the video tutorials for immigrants to learn gardening in Finnish climate. So far, in the events there have been 133 participants of which 92 immigrants with refugee background.

ARC 100
ISSS co-operates with local Secondhand Café Solrosen.
In Östervåla, Sweden, ISSS have co-operation with local Secondhand Café (Solrosen), local farms (Holm and Torp) and local authority actors (’Arbetsmarknad’ and Heby Kommun – Integration för Nyanlända). The ARC Project participants are involved 4 days every week since January 2018. The participants gain a sense of pride, dignity, respect and inclusion  through selecting seeds for both vegetables and flowers, planting in boxes built from recycled materials (from the ISSS’s own woodwork workshops and then delivering every week to both the Secondhand Café and the local library where local residents can freely take the potted plants. Every plant is delivered in a recycled plant pot, identified and labelled with an ISSS - ARC Project Sweden label, telling residents who has grown the plant and where they can find more information on the ARC Project.

For immigrants the ARC project has offered plenty of possibilities to learn new skills and meet new people. ”ARC has been really interesting and useful. Thanks to project I have found out where to rent land for cultivation purposes and what vegetables to grow in Finland. I really want to learn how to cultivate in Finland and what plants are suitable for Finnish climate” told one of the immigrants called Ayman. In Sweden one of the key lessons learnt, from both the RIM Program and ARC Project, has been the absolute need for ‘Respect. Acceptance. Inclusion. Dignity’ ly. (R.A.I.D). If any of the key elements are excluded or removed, the chance for successful integration decreases significantly.

ARC project will continue until 30th of November 2019.

Text by Heidi Ovaska, project manager

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