A Study Trip- and the Bob’s your uncle

On Sunday 18.6.2017 Finnish Red Cross South-West District’s youths left to a five-days study trip to England. The trip was planned together with a Finnish Red Cross volunteer Henrika, youth action coordinator (Finnish Red Cross) Sara and StepEurope Ry’s international coordinator Teddy and president Melina. Also the participants had a chance to give their hints for the free time activities.

Most of the youths were familiar with each other in advance, but also a few new faces participated. The group became one in a short time and the atmosphere was high from the very first day regardless of the tiredness. Many of the participants have been an active member of Finnish Red Cross earlier in first aid, multicultural actions and/or youth actions.

The trip included visit to the huge British Red Cross headquarters in London. Over there we met Hugo, who is the Incharge of the asylum seekers and refugee actions in Red Cross. He was telling quite carefully about the activities and support they are offering. A big difference is for instance that in England the Red Cross does not provide reception centres at all like we do in Finland.

On the same day we travelled from London to an idyllic small town called Canterbury. We had a dinner and short walk in the riverside. We got a hint about a place, which is serving the best mojitos in the town, so we visited a lovely pub, mixture of historic walls and big modern glass windows.

Picture 3

During our stay in Canterbury was the International Refugee Day. The day included many activities in the town. We visited an exhibition of an art project related to the refugees. We also had a chance to visit the British Red Cross Canterbury’s office. There we met youth action coordinator, Ben. He was interested to hear how the things are in Finland and also told us about their ways of supporting the people nearby. Later we had a historic tour about Canterbury. The guide was awesome!

Folkstone, what a beautiful town next to the sea! The reason we took a bus from Canterbury to Folkstone was Kent Refugee Action Network, which aims to help and support the young asylum seekers who are living alone. We went to see their office and had a long walk in the town with the employees, volunteers and young asylum seekers.

Beside all the interesting visits,  we were also having picnics, time for shopping, dinners and just good time with the group! A nice trip indeed! The trip would not have been so great and well organized, if Melina and Teddy would not have been spending time and effort to book tables in restaurants, making appointments with the visit places and organizing the picnics and tours in Canterbury. Also a big thank for Finnish Red Cross for offering such an amazing chances for youths to explore different cultures and ways of behaving! Thank you so much!

-Ronja (StepEurope ry, project coordinator)

Europe’s Refugee Crisis Training- An Experience from a Volunteer

Hi there!

I´m going to tell you about a trip that was beyond what I ever thought it would be. I was somewhat familiar with StepEurope when a friend and member of StepEurope gave me a small poke on facebook and wrote to me, more or less.. “hey Robin.. there is this an 8-day long course about the refugee crisis in England, try it out!”. The theme of the course was very interesting and ALSO, I found out most of the travel expenses would be compensated for and that the lodging and the meals were taken care of. After getting this info, I was like.. “holy *beep*, this trip is happening!” At the moment I wasn´t aware but I can tell you that this course was happening within the frames of Erasmus+ ..which more or less funded the whole project/course to my knowledge.

Fast forward again and we arrive at the wonderful Asha centre in Gloucester (England). During our stay, we got to know people from Denmark, France, Germany, UK, USA, Italy and the Netherlands. It´s very hard to describe how you get to bond so well with so many people in only about 8 days. Something wise I picked up during our stay there was: the more we open up and share… the more likely we make stronger connections with each other. It went more or less like that. In a super tight nutshell of all the things we did there: icebreaking games (a lot of them.. and they were FUN!), teamwork games, all kinds of workshops (also relating to the refugee crisis), LSD (not the drug but.. Listen, Summarize, Discuss), volleyball, shopping, beer drinking, visiting a church that has something to do with Harry Potter, visit from Baroness Janet Royall, two evenings of campfires, social dancing lesson, singing lesson, we had as a participant a fantastic person who told us about his struggles when he as a refugee made his way through the Balkans and all to the UK, two mornings of swimming in a holy ancient pool of spring water.

Ok, let´s continue: pub visit (EPIC, lot´s of beer, funny pictures, other beverages and socializing), international food tasting (Finland offered.. salmiakki candy.. mmmmmm..), card games, learning about the FANTASTIC Asha centre and getting to know the volunteers who work there (they rule #xoxo), we ate a massive amount of delicious dishes of all kinds. Blew my mind really. And one more thing relating to food, don´t put pineapple on your pizza. If an Italian saw you eating pizza with pineapple on it, you could choke her or him to death. It´s true. Two things that I saved to the end of this blog post of mine are the two visits we did. One to Garage and the other one to Grange Village. In Garage (asylum and refugee centre) we got to hear how their organisation works and a lot about how the system works in the UK and misc. info relating to asylum seekers and refugees. Then we have Grange Village, I would describe it as a very warm place, you really felt welcomed there. Grange Village is a home for people with special needs and they produce a lot as well. It´s seemed pretty much self-reliant. What impressed me was the ceramics and the handicrafts they created and also sold.

Now to round this up and finish. I´m gonna miss the place and everything I experienced there during those 8 days. Besides learning about the refugee crisis in different ways, we, the participants also bonded and learned from each other. Whatever that was. For me, it was an opportunity to soul search as I´m sure it was for the rest as well. I´m not gonna miss the passport checking douche in Riga airport on my way home to Turku but I have plenty of happy memories, drive and energy. All of which I picked up because I choose to participate in this course.


Best regards,

Robin #Hugs #OnlyNeed5minToPack #Kidding #LoL