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Associations for all – Föreningsliv för alla

Social inclusion through involvement in the third sector

Branch: Entrepreneurship and business

Duration: 1.3.2020-31.8.2022

Region: Ostrobothnia

Financed by: European social fund
Svenska kulturfonden

Project Manager: Mona Groop-Sjöholm

Föreningsliv för alla logo

A problem in the integration of immigrants is the lack of contact to native speakers that are not part of an administrative authority. Integrational efforts are not as effective as could be due to immigrant’s lack of social contacts and possibilities to train their new language in an outside of school environment. Weak social networks outside of one’s own ethnic group leads to potential contacts to work life being missed. Social isolation also directly weakens the work and functional capabilities of immigrants.

Informal networks are often crucial in landing a job. Immigrants are often without these networks which puts the into a vulnerable position. Through participation in associations and clubs’ immigrants and Finns can form new meaningful contacts. Many associations say they have a huge need of more committed members but they do not know how to find new potential members. There is also not a concrete plan of how to welcome new members and give them a place in the activities.

Today associations and the third sector are mentioned in the curriculum of integrational education but the practical implementation is not systemized. Today focus in this education is mostly on work life and further studies and there is no room for information about social life even if that information would be crucial for immigrant’s social inclusion.

There is need of a more consistent and resource effective way of matching immigrants and associations that can function in the integrational process also after the ending of a project.

The aim of the project is to support immigrant’s social participation through involvement in Finnish associations and through that further their work and functional abilities.

The project aims to do this by making the associational life, its role in Finland and the possibilities it gives more visible and easily understandable for immigrants by better educational material of associations in the integrational education. The project increases the susceptibility in Finnish associations towards participation from other cultures and also helps associations to find members from other cultures though a guide for inclusion. The project creates a new, continuous and resource effective way of bringing together immigrants and associations for a model of two-way integration.

As a result of the project immigrants better know the possibilities of social participation through associations in the Jakobstad region and feel inspired to take part of different activities. As a result of the project the percentage of participants with immigrant background increases and this leads to better wellbeing, language knowledge and better rootedness in the society for immigrants. The involvement in voluntary activities such as associations gives immigrants greater social networks and leads to better prerequisites for employment.

An important part of the project is to develop the cooperation between regional actors working with immigrant’s road to employment, including work training and rehabilitating activities, in order to include associations in this process of furthering immigrants’ chances towards employment.

As a result of the project the Jakobstad region receives a complete method for two-way integration through the third sector. The experiences and models are circulated to other regions and actors.

Project time 1.3.2020-31.8.2021

Project is funded by European Social Fund and Svenska kulturfonden

For associations

Guide: How can an association be more inclusive

What is an association?


Mona Groop-Sjöholm