The City of Espoo has launched a new information service for immigrants. This is a pilot project lasting until the end of August 2021. The information point for immigrants was going to be opened in December at the Iso Omena Service Centre, but due to the COVID-19 epidemic, it was launched as a telephone service.
Staff will be available at the Service Centre as soon as the COVID-19 situation eases and face-to-face customer service is safe again.
Guidance on public services
The information service for immigrants employs around ten people with professional backgrounds ranging from social and health services to employment and customer service. The team provides guidance in Finnish, Swedish, English and Kurdish and also in other languages through telephone interpreting service on the following topics:
- early childhood education (day-care matters)
- studying and working
- social services and benefits
- health and well-being
- assistance in filling out forms
- assistance in dealing with the authorities.
The service is available from Monday to Thursday from 10:00–16:00 and on Fridays from 9:00–12:00 by telephoning 040 636 8097. The service will open at the Iso Omena Service Centre at the earliest on 11 January 2021 or when the COVID-19 restrictions come to an end.
One-stop-shop service supports integration
More than 19 per cent of Espoo residents speak a language other than Finnish or Swedish as their native language. The City of Espoo views that the information service for immigrants supports effective integration into Finnish society.
Successful integration and employment of immigrants are becoming increasingly important for the City of Espoo each year as the number of immigrants and their share of the city’s population is growing strongly. In fifteen years’ time, more than one third of the working-age population in Espoo is expected to be foreign-language speakers.
The purpose of the information service for immigrants is to provide immigrants with a so-called one-stop-shop service.
“When more than one matter can be promoted through a single phone call or visit, both the customers’ and the city employees’ time is saved. At the same time, we are extensively familiarising our own staff with the city’s service range. The idea is very similar to that of the Espoo Service Centres, which is why the service is such an excellent fit to the Iso Omena Service Centre,” says Satu Venhola, Project Manager.
At least initially, the service will be available temporarily until 31 August 2021. It is financed mainly through project funding granted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment for the development of immigrant guidance and information services. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment has granted funding to a total of 21 municipalities or joint municipal authorities.
“In Espoo, our goal is to develop immigrant services simultaneously with all of our other services. We are not interested in creating a separate service path for a part of the population: that is why the project operates as a part of the city’s services and is physically located at the Iso Omena Service Centre, where multi-professional cooperation is already part of the normal service,” says Venhola.
Satu Venhola, Project Manager, tel. 043 827 3484, firstname.lastname@example.org