Cultural mediator training gathered together social and health care professionals

Lauren Stevens
Sonja Verkasalo
The Terkku project’s two-day cultural mediator training was organised on 1-2.11. at Allianssi-talo in Helsinki.

Cultural mediator training is supplementary training for professionals with an immigrant or multicultural background working in the field of health and social care. The purpose of the training was to strengthen the professionals’ skills in cultural sensitivity. The training equipped them to utilise their own multicultural background and skills in their work. During the training, the participants were provided with tools for meeting different multicultural clients and were taught ways to deal with racism in the workplace.


The topics that the training addressed were:

  • examples of racism and discrimination towards clients or patients
  • intercultural, paraverbal, and non-verbal communication
  • the role of cultural mediators in the social and health care field
  • the phases and modes of cultural mediation
  • the difference between interpreters and cultural mediators
  • why cultural mediators are needed
  • the benefits of having cultural mediators in a workplace
  • the cultural mediators’ code of practice
  • the impact of unresolved cultural barriers


Professionals who attended the training have the ability to work as experts in multicultural work in their own work community.


The facilitator Emma Tamankag works as a senior lecturer in the department of nursing at Laurea University of Applied Sciences and has over 15 years’ experience as a nurse in different clinical settings. She is also the President of both Heed Association Finland and Moniheli. Emma has observed uncountable conflicts in her work, which could have been prevented with the help of a cultural mediator. Cultural mediators in the social and health care field and community outreach work are indispensable given the changing demographics in Finland. These two training days were enriching, Emma says, and have only amplified the urgent need for cultural mediator training in Finland.


The training includes a 2.5 hour-long follow up meeting in spring 2022 on a specific date arranged later.


There were 11 participants in the training, eight of whom represented NGOs. There were also representatives from the public social and health care sector, universities, and the cultural sector. The age of the participants ranged from 22 to 57.


The feedback forms revealed that:

  • All of the participants agreed that the facilitator was good
  • All of the participants agreed that the training was useful
  • 91% of the participants agreed that they learnt new things
  • 91% of the participants agreed that they can use the things they learnt in their work
  • 82% of the participants agreed that they would recommend the training
  • 64% of the participants wanted the training to be longer


In the feedback, one participant wrote that the training provided them with the “opportunity to meet many wonderful people”; there was “so much good discussion we could’ve talked for hours”. Another participant wrote that “it was perfection” and said that the facilitator was “excellent”. Two participants described the training as “eye-opening”, one of whom referred to the usage of “examples from so many different cultures”. A further participant mentioned “new concepts such as paraverbal communication” and referred to the facilitator as “beyond skilled”. Another comment said that it was “such a valuable training” and that “the programme was brilliant”. A final highlight was the following comment: “Thank you so much, this is really important work, and it is really urgent and much needed!”


The best part of the training for many participants as well as Terkku Project Coordinator Lauren Stevens was the Barnga game, which is from a book called ‘Barnga: A Simulation Game on Cultural Clashes’ by Sivasailam Thiagarajan.

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