How can I, being new in Finland, learn Swedish or Finnish the best way? What kind of leisure activities are there if I am not interested in sports? These are examples of the questions that are discussed in the new multicultural cooperation network in the Jakobstad region.
In 2016 a survey about the need of an immigrant council in the Jakobstad region was made. Immigrants and elected officials were interviewed and the result showed that there is a need of a collecting body, but not as political or time consuming as an immigrant council.
– A non-binding cooperation network that is open for everyone who is interested in immigration issues and in exploring the riches of having many cultures in the same region seemed better. Here you can participate if you are interested and it does not matter if you have an immigrant background or not, says the Integration Coordinator Pia Fraktman.
Aim: 3–4 meetings a year
The first meeting of the new multicultural cooperation network, which is part of the Integration Services in the Jakobstad region, was held in November.
The aim is to have 3–4 meetings a year about three topical themes that took form in the beginning: language, children and leisure, and school and education.
– If needed we will invite external agents or authorities that can give more information on a topic. So far this year we have had three meetings and would gladly have more participants.
During the spring the municipalities in the region have worked with a new integration programme,
which also will guide our activities. (Integration Coordinator Pia Fraktman)
The activity is along the same lines as in the municipalities, according to Fraktman.
– During the spring the municipalities in the region have worked with a new integration programme, which also will guide our activities.
Fraktman is talking about two-way immigration, i.e. it is about a reciprocal process, where all parties has to change as the population is more multifaceted in regards to for example cultural or linguistic background.
– About 70 languages are spoken in Jakobstad, which shows that the town already is and has been multicultural for a longer period of time. There is therefore no reason for the worry that some native Finns sometimes expresses about how the Finnish society is affected by the increasing number of immigrants.
– Instead of wondering, you could participate in our meetings and discuss with us what the society looks like and how we want it to be developed in the future.
• The Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration is encouraging the municipalities to appoint a cooperation body either within a municipality or to form a multi-sectoral local-level cooperation. In practice, this is seen as networks, immigrant councils or multicultural committees.
• The aim of the multicultural cooperation network is to improve the chances for immigrants to take part in the local society and in the grassroots democracy.
• The network meetings are part of Jakobstad’s work with involvement and dialogue with the residents.
• The town is also regularly arranging residents’ forums and surveys in Swedish and Finnish.
• On the town’s webpage (www.jakobstad.fi/ge-feedback, www.jakobstad.fi/anna-palautetta) you can give feedback on the services of the town either in Swedish or Finnish.
• There is a separate form for feedback on social and health care services: www.sochv.jakobstad.fi/feedback
• Contact the Integration Coordinator Pia Fraktman, 044 785 1525, firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the network.