KAMU-Buddies was a 2-year project (2013-14) funded by the European Social Fund and the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for the Uusimaa region. It was carried out in a partnership of Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, the Keskuspuisto Vocational College and the Kalliola Settlement.
The need for this project sprang from the lack of contacts as well as poor Finnish language skills of many Keskuspuisto students with an immigrant background. From the point of view of Metropolia there was a need to increase the competences of future professionals of social services related with multiculturalism and special needs in a new learning environment. Additionally Kalliola Settlement was interested in developing the volunteer work of students.
The collaboration between organisations was piloted when forming pairs of KAMU-buddies consisting of a student from Keskuspuisto and Metropolia. They were to meet each other informally for one year. Kalliola trained the students in voluntary work and provided them with supervision. The aim of the activity was on one hand to strengthen the integration of the students with an immigrant background and on the other hand the professional competencies of students of Social Services.
During the first year of the project the group activities aimed at KAMU-buddies were developed and turned into a description on how to use KAMU-group activities when starting a buddies programme. Students in collaboration with specialists developed activating board games and drama stories, which can be used e.g. in supporting integration, in a training on volunteer work and as a tool to strengthen language skills.
Model on Learning through Service and Volunteering
KAMU-project also developed a model for Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences, which combines studies and volunteer work also in other contexts, not only in buddies programmes. This model was integrated in a course unit called Internship on Volunteer Work, which accounts for 5 ECTS and is included in the curriculum of each Social Services student graduating from Metropolia. The Learning through Service and Volunteering Model is based on a clear orientation of the student in advance, self-study material on voluntary work, supervision provided by the voluntary work organization and a structured self-assessment.
Based on the feedback received from many educational institutions and voluntary work organisations there seems to be a wide interest and need to develop the connection between studies and voluntary work in Finland. Eventually many voluntary work organisations in the capital region joined a network, which continues to develop the Learning through Service and Volunteering Model in the future.