Getting to know Finland in the men’s group

Tatu Blomqvist
Adil Reyaz and Janne Leskinen are searching for more volunteers to join the men’s group.
Image: Tatu Blomqvist

The men’s group, organised for asylum seekers, discusses sports, cultures, and gets to know the Finnish way of life in the process.

Join the men’s group
  • Are you interested in the group or would you like to become a volunteer? Send a message to sprmiestenryhma@gmail.com
  • The group meets every Thursday at 6:30PM at the reception centre in Helsinki, at the address Kaarlenkatu 7.

The group offers change to the everyday life of the asylum seekers. The asylum seekers get to know the Finnish way of life and the city of Helsinki in the process. The activities are needed to make adjusting to the new country and the new culture easier.

“Few asylum seekers coming from the Middle East have knowledge of what a Finnish person is like. It’s very important that we can get to know the city together. Many of those who have arrived in Finland wander around, go window-shopping, in a way, but don’t understand what they’re seeing,” says Adil Reyaz, a volunteer group leader, and recalls that he felt the same way when he moved to Finland a year ago.

The men’s group, founded in November, has already visited the Sports Museum, gone to watch stand-up comedy, and watched Finnish movies.

“The Sports Museum had a lot of interesting things. Some members of the group hadn’t known anything about winter sports,” Janne Leskinen, the other leader of the group, laughs.

“Last week, we spent time together in the asylum centre. We learned about the cultures of the asylum seekers, and they could ask questions about Finland, if they wanted,” Reyaz says.

The men’s group seeks more volunteers

Upon their arrival in Finland, the asylum seekers go to the reception centre at Kaarlenkatu, in Helsinki, for example. After some time, they will move to the reception centres in different parts of Finland to await the decision on granting asylum.

“The members of the group change, which is why forming relationships sometimes takes more time,” Reyaz says.

“But they’re positive about us, because many asylum seekers are familiar with the Red Cross and they know that we’re volunteers. Co-operation with the Kaarlenkatu reception centre works very well,” Leskinen continues.

The men’s group meets once a week on Thursdays.

“This kind of activity is needed and it’s important that Finnish people also get to know immigrants and make new friends. Loneliness is a big problem in Finland,” Leskinen states.

The group is currently seeking new volunteers to join the activities. Leskinen says that the meetings can be organised more often when there are more volunteers.

“This is a low-threshold activity, and anyone can join to lead a group. The goal is to have fun together, and we are open to all ideas,” Leskinen encourages people to join.