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Oulu invests in the social integration of immigrants

Sharing information about Finland and teaching the Finnish language are key factors in integrating immigrants.

The arrival of large number of asylum seekers has required the city of Oulu to come up with new ideas for accommodation and other services. Both the city’s employees and voluntary residents of Oulu have worked hard to provide these services.

The constantly changing situation has demanded quick and flexible moves and it has been important that the co-operation between different operators has worked well.

In the beginning it’s important to offer integrating services for everyone. Right now the waiting period for labour force courses, is on average 90 days. It’s a long time to wait, when you are in a foreign country.

Furthermore, the courses are targeted at unemployed persons, and they don’t serve the needs, for example, of stay at home mothers or elderly people.

”There are a lot of customs in our culture that we need to explain. For instance the social security number, that we consider normal, is astounding to many foreigners,” says Priyanka Sood, who works in the City of Oulu’s multicultural centre Villa Victor.

In the future, there will be orientation courses at The Villa Victor free for anyone to attend. There will also be guiding services offered in co-operation with immigrant organisations.

”It would be important to get immigrants involved in planning the services aimed at immigrants. Fortunately, we have found some new members for different projects and steering groups from the immigrant council that was formed last May.”