Written by Hanna Carlsson
From the 20th to the 22nd of January, ENIEC members Hanna Carlsson, Eva Rönkkö and Susanna Lehtovaara participated in an online conference on Ageing in Europe. The conference was hosted by the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Research on Ageing and Care, the European Sociological Association (ESA) and the Ageing in Europe research network of the ESA.
During the conference, several researchers presented findings from studies on older migrants. Some of the topics were Racism and social exclusion; Grandparenting across borders; Older migrants’ social networks in Switzerland and Germany: Older migrants’ wellbeing in Finland, and the Role of volunteer organizations in filling gaps in care provision. A recurrent theme was that activities focused on the wellbeing of older migrants often create pressure to create integration in wider society.
Eva and Susanna presented findings on older migrants’ participation in social activities and sport in Finland. Susanna discussed the experiences from her organisation JADE. She finds that older migrants want to do sport but are not given the opportunity. There is insufficient funding and in contact with sport providers they are met with prejudice and stereotyping. Eva discussed the position of older migrants in sport policy. She found that the national sport strategy documents for older people never talk of minorities or migrants. When discussed, sports for older migrants is targeting integration rather then wellbeing. Eva and Susanna recommend that policy makers and sport providers approach minorities and migrants as a diverse group and make more effort to tailor activities which take a broader range of difference into account.
Hanna discussed the importance of working together with professionals in care for researchers who want to have a societal impact. During her PhD project she has worked with ENIEC members Conny van der Aalsvoort and Hatice Tokgöz Bölek to organize webinars and awareness raising meetings in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Hanna argued that it is important that researchers realize that professionals both have different timelines than researchers and that there often is limited time and funds to participate in research projects. Therefore, it can be a good strategy to follow existing activities of professionals rather than to start new ones. Another strategy is to research what professionals already do to reach older migrants, and to engage in dialogue with professionals on how such ‘best practices’ can be developed further.
It was good to see that many researchers work on issues related to the wellbeing of older migrants and ethnic minorities, and Eva, Susanna and Hanna look forward to having a dialogue with other members about their research during social times at the next ENIEC Annual Meeting.