Building Bridges Statement

The Toolkit was designed to collect and share the know-how on voluntary projects involving people seeking or who have recently found refuge, as well as raising awareness on forced migration in general. The collection of guidelines, methods and case studies is non-exhaustive and should simply foster your own inspiration and support you in implementing projects on the topic. The creation of the Toolkit has been driven by the ever bigger need of the international SCI network to exchange best practices on projects in the field. It was coordinated by SCI Switzerland with the support of Útilapu Hungary. Its existence wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Mercator Foundation Switzerland and the active contribution of the Building Bridges working group and a number of SCI branches.

Case studies are successful implemented examples sharing with you what is going on in the SCI movement on the topic of refugees and migration.


Giving feedback, evaluating experiences, sharing them with others and participating in thematic workshops

When: To do once or twice a year

Contact / Source: KVT Finland

Laura Laitinen

Jenni Kemppainen

    Context and idea
    The Volunteer Weekend is an event for KVT volunteers with a special focus on migration. It is an annual event for volunteers and activists to give feedback, evaluate their experiences and share them with others. Each year the focus can be an actual one related to migration. Therefore immigrant participants can be asked to share their experiences, plan and run a workshop in cooperation with other branch members and participate in the discussions.

    One day can be dedicated to focus on giving feedback and sharing experiences by dividing into small groups (camp leaders and hosts, asylum seekers, long term and short term volunteering) as well as having brief case examples of different types of volunteering you can do within SCI. For instance, KVT had a camp host from the Siuntio reception center telling about their workcamp experience, a camp leader with an asylum seeker background and volunteer experiences from Palestine. During the afternoon the participants had the chance to learn Arabic, Somali and Dari languages in the Multilingual town workshop which was prepared and run mainly by volunteers with refugee background. The evening continued with singing, dancing and sauna. The other day, there were two workshops: firstly regarding activism and media in the Middle East and secondly Comics Power!-workshop facilitated by World Comics Finland. Both of the workshops encouraged participants to think about their points of view and express them.

    Objectives and aim
    The volunteer weekend is an empowering event for all our volunteers, letting our volunteers to go through and evaluate their experiences, but also to get inspired by listening to others as well as making new contacts. For asylum seekers this is a good occasion for integration and finding local ways for active citizenship. In addition, the branch can also find new active volunteers with refugee background.

    As a long term aim, KVT wanted to establish a common ground for future activities with asylum seekers and migrants. During the weekend they were able to get a wider understanding of what KVT does and also learn it in practice when planning and conducting parts of the programme, thus finding new ways to be active in KVT and SCI as well as share their views on how KVT’s work with refugees could be further developed.

    Target groups

    • Asylum seekers
    • Activists in the field
    • Camp leaders and hosts
    • Camp participants
    • Volunteers from the branch

    History and description
    KVT has worked with asylum seekers regularly providing every year 16-20 places for asylum seekers on Finnish workcamps with great results. Unfortunately they have been unable to offer ways to stay active in the organisation after the camp, even though the participants have been very willing to do so. On one side KVT has not been aware what the organisation could offer to the asylum seekers and how they could contribute to the organisation, and one the other hand, the migrant participants have not received a comprehensive picture of KVT and what else they could do within the organisation. Thus, they tried to concentrate on creating interaction and getting to know the immigrant volunteers better through concrete work together with planning and implementing the annual Volunteer Weekend.

    Evaluation methods
    At the end a brief evaluation session with all the participants was useful to hear what were the best parts of the weekend and what could be done differently. After the Multilingual town workshop, feedback from the facilitators were collected verbally and after the event, the organisers of the weekend summed up the feedback and shared their own views. The Volunteer weekend can also be discussed at the board meeting. As we know, feedback serves to reveal issues to be improved or to be continued for the next years.

    Public relations
    The event was advertised beforehand on KVT’s website and Facebook pages several times. Afterwards, pictures were shared via Facebook and Instagram.

    Sustainability and follow up
    Two asylum seekers were sharing the workcamp experiences and discussing the topic of asylum seekers as volunteers in the annual Volunteer coordinator autumn seminar in Helsinki in October 2016. Organisation of a meeting in order to plan together with more details what and in which ways the asylum seekers would like to volunteer and what support they need. On social media channels content can be shared to promote the activities. In spring visiting the reception centers that have cooperated earlier in order to inform about the volunteering options next summer. Whenever possible, these visits can be organised with asylum seekers that have already participated in the camps before.


    You can share your experience, observations, tips and tricks, pictures etc. by uploading for instance a method or a case study to the Building Bridges Toolkit. As this Toolkit is a work in progress to which all involved parties are invited to contribute, we would also be very grateful for your support and contribution in order to inspire others to continue the work towards peace and intercultural understanding.