The Red Cross grants Pioneer Against Prejudice awards

This year, the national week against racism coordinated by the Finnish Red Cross will be held from 16 to 22 March. The theme week aims to influence people’s attitudes to reduce racism in society.

The Red Cross gives the Pioneer Against Prejudice awards to communities, companies and individuals whose actions promote humanity and equality.

“One of the ways to fight everyday racism is enabling interaction between people from different backgrounds. That’s why we want to draw attention to operators who consider different people equally in recruitment, education, cultural offerings or volunteer activities,” says Janette Grönfors, the Finnish Red Cross’ Expert on Anti-racism Activities.

This year, the Pioneer Against Prejudice award will be presented to Oulu Main Library, the Polkuja teatteriin – Paths to Theatre project of Joensuu City Theatre, the volunteers of Sininauhasäätiö, restaurant chain Hesburger, the Tokmanni shop in Pieksämäki and the Satakunta-based education organisation WinNova.

Focus on the employment and education of immigrants

In Southwest Finland, the award is given to the restaurant chain Hesburger for its unprejudiced long-term outlook on recruiting and training employees.

In Southeast Finland, the award goes to the Tokmanni shop in Pieksämäki. It has offered internships where interns from different nationalities can practice Finnish and introduced them to the work tasks in an exemplary manner.

In Satakunta, the education organisation WinNova has made a long-term effort to promote the education and employment of immigrants and developed innovative operation models to support students.

“Particularly praiseworthy is the model where instructors, who have personally gone through the integration process, help the students with both their studies and their integration into society,” says Paula Ilén, Executive Director of the Red Cross’ Satakunta District.

Volunteer activities, community art and cooperation

The Helsinki and Uusimaa District grants the award to the volunteers of the Sininauhasäätiö foundation. The volunteers altruistically give their time to those in the most vulnerable situations, such as the homeless. Homeless persons from both Finland and other countries receive support from them.

In Savonia-Karelia, the award is given to Joensuu City Theatre’s community art project Polkuja teatteriin – Paths to Theatre.The goal of the project is to strengthen the identities of young people from different cultures and give them a sense of involvement in their city or community.

The Oulu District gives the award to the city’s main library, which has been the Red Cross’ partner in the Week Against Racism for years, and which also holds a language-learning café for immigrants. This year, the library is having an exhibition on the daily life of asylum seekers.