Cooperation with stakeholders led to understanding
The first question in planning the project was “why”. What were the problems behind the statistics that young immigrants were having? It was clear that consultants and workgroups could not answer the question – the only way forward was to cooperate with young immigrants and the professionals working with them.
Palmu oversaw the creation of joint planning teams that accepted applications from different organisations and departments, like schools, associations, the city youth department, multicultural societies and working life preparation representatives. A good number of applications was received, 80 in total. After interviewing the applicants, three teams of ten people were formed.
The joint planning teams specialised in certain areas and interviewed young immigrants and their parents about these areas. The challenges of the youth were identified as follows: limited opportunities for discussing personal difficulties, trouble finding their first job and the parents’ lack of awareness about the opportunities in the Finnish society and the substance use of the youth.
Working together was the success factor for this project. At no point did anyone feel like they were involved as an outside party or that solutions were being handed down. Joint planning produced corresponding results.
– Irma Sippola, project manager, Migrant Youth Helsinki
Quick trials separate bad ideas from good
During the winter and spring of 2016, the joint planning teams met in varying configurations. Over the spring, workshops and continuously listening to the stakeholders produced hundreds of ideas for improving the circumstances of young immigrants. The best ideas were chosen by analysing how easy they would be to realise and how great their benefit would be to the target group. The ten most workable ideas were chosen for quick trials.
The quick trials were a new way for municipal organisations, such as the City of Helsinki, to approach project testing. Quick trials replace a lengthy and rigid planning process with small test groups and swift schedules. This allowed for quick feedback on how the ideas worked and any potential issues. The ideas that were received the best were polished further and prepared for a pilot stage.