Maailmanvaihto’s support persons and families help foreign volunteers to make new contacts and adjust into the everyday life in Finland.
Finland is seldom a familiar place for the volunteers beforehand, and it is likely that they do not have many social contacts in Finland in the beginning of the volunteer period.
Support persons and families ease the volunteers’ accommodation process by familiarizing them with the local customs and way of life. Every foreign volunteer will get a support person or a support family.
”Becoming a support person helps to realise how similar we are despite our different backgrounds: we are all human, and besides the differences there is a lot in common.” – Iina Yrttimaa, support person
Becoming a support person or a support family offers a chance to learn about the foreign volunteer’s culture and language – such as Spanish, Russian or Swahili. In addition, it is likely to try out new things in your local area which you would not otherwise do.
First and foremost they spend time with the volunteer. They can, for example, invite the volunteer over, celebrate festivals with them or help with finding hobbies. They are both friends and a guides to the new environment for the volunteer. In addition, they are people who the volunteer can easily contact.
A support person or a support family is an important part of the volunteer’s support network which includes also the voluntary workplace, possible host family and the office staff of Maailmanvaihto. Foreign volunteers and support persons often have something in common, such as age, interests or the languages they speak.
Both support persons and support families are in touch with the volunteer regularly. The support family is also willing to accommodate the volunteer during weekends and holidays, either occasionally or regularly.
Maailmanvaihto requires support person and families to commit to the task for the whole volunteer period (6 to 12 months, often starting in August). For those who are to become a support person for the first time, it is also required to take part in a training.
We yearly look for support persons and families yearly from many towns and cities. Support person and support family activities are suitable for all those who are interested in getting to know a new person and supporting them. We are looking for people who are at least 18 years old.
It is good to have at least basic conversational skills in English or in the volunteer’s native language. Having experience in living in a foreign culture is a benefit but not a necessity.
We require the support persons and support families to commit to the task for the whole volunteering period (6–12 months, usually starting from August).
A training session for the support persons and families (1 person per family) is organized alongside the foreign volunteers’ on-arrival camp. If needed, Maailmanvaihto can organize extra meetings for the support persons and families later during the voluntary work year. Suppor persons also receive a guidebook (in Finnish).
We mainly receive volunteers yearly in August. The right time to apply to become a support person for one of the volunteers starting in August is May–June.
If you got interested, please contact us for further information and an application form:
Programme coordinator Mari Takalo
+358 44 318 0888