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A mother who can’t cope alone

The mother arrived in Finland with her six children. Everyday life in a new country is difficult, and she is exhausted. Her children are increasingly absent from nursery and the staff become concerned. They talk to the mother and agree that the way forward is to ask the social services for help. They arrange for a family worker to visit the family home regularly. The home services also help the mother to take care of the home and chores, and gradually their lives improve.


Everyday life in a new country is difficult

The family came to Finland from a refugee camp, where the father died from illness. Life had been chaotic in their war-torn homeland. The mother did not have the opportunity to go to school or learn to read or write. She is very concerned about her close relatives who remain in the midst of the unrest.

She feels that moving to Finland and adapting to the new environment and culture has been very difficult. There are some very detailed rules for how to live and behave in a block of flats and she finds them hard to remember. Her neighbours are sometimes angry as her children stomp around in the evenings when they play. There are written rules and instructions everywhere that the mother cannot read.

The mother had talked to immigration office staff through an interpreter when she first moved to Finland, but she can no longer remember who she was advised to contact. It is difficult to communicate with the authorities, and she does not know who to turn to when there’s a problem. She finds it difficult to learn to tell the time, and because of this things are sometimes left unattended. She has previously gone to the welfare service offices at the wrong time when the interpreter has already left.

The mother gets tired

The four youngest children are in a nursery and the two eldest are in primary school. The school and the nursery send her letters and papers at least once a week, but sometimes she does not have someone at hand to read and translate the messages for her.

Eventually the mother gets tired. She is too worried to sleep, and at night her thoughts are with her relatives far away. She is too tired to take her young children to nursery every day. Keeping the home clean is difficult, and things seem to be piling up. She is unable to do the laundry every day and make sure that her children wear clothes that are suitable for the weather. The older children try to take care of the younger ones after school.

Nursery staff help the mother to seek help

Nursery staff have already talked to the mother about the various ways she can get help. When younger children are repeatedly absent, members of staff invite the mother to the nursery for a discussion. After the discussion, they decide to contact the social services together to assess the family’s support needs. Link Read more on the page Becoming a social welfare customer.

A social worker meets with the mother and her children and explains that the purpose of the meeting is to discuss the family’s problems and how they could be solved.

A family worker comes to talk to the mother and helps her take care of the accumulated chores. A home service worker helps with housework and, little by little, the mother gets on top of the chores.

The family worker visits the family every other week at an agreed time to help the mother. She accompanies the mother when there are difficult errands to run and helps her to make a doctor’s appointment. The doctor helps the mother to recover from insomnia and depression.

The family worker uses her connections to find a suitable handicrafts group for the mother to join. The mother finds that meeting with the group makes her feel better. She finds a support person through another organisation who meets the family twice a month. The support person sometimes takes the younger children outdoors or plays with them, helps the older children with homework or just talks to the mother. It is agreed with the family worker that her visits are no longer needed because the mother is much better, but the support person continues to help the family on a regular basis.

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