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Correctional Services students from Norway visit Laurea

Students of University College of Norwegian Correctional Service (KRUS) visited Laurea and learned about the KEIJO project, training experts by experience with a criminal background.

University College of Norwegian Correctional Service (Kriminalomsorgens høgskole og utdanningssenter KRUS) is a higher education institute located in Lillestrøm. On 7 October, eight KRUS students and their teachers visited Laurea to get acquainted with Finnish education in the field of correctional services. During their week in Finland, the Norwegian students visited various places, including Helsinki and Suomenlinna prisons.

On Thursday, 10 October, the students visited the Tikkurila Campus to learn about the KEIJO project. The KEIJO project provides experts-by-experience training for people with a background in crime and substance abuse. Training lasts for three months. The goal is to develop an education model that supports employment, drawing on experience-based expertise and its use for professional purposes. The KEIJO project is provided in cooperation by Valo coaching association, Silta coaching association and Laurea.

Matti, an expert by experience who participated in the first KEIJO training, and Janika Lindström, Senior Lecturer at Laurea, introduced the project activities to the visitors. Most of the participants are active in the workplace, taking part in, for example, work try-outs in the field of substance-abuse prevention or carrying out voluntary work or other similar activities.

Matti told the visitors his own story, describing his involvement in crime and how he managed to leave his old life behind. Matti now works as an expert by experience, helping released prisoners to better adjust to society. He also helps Janika select future participants for the KEIJO project. The project usually receives applications from approximately 15 inmates to be released from prison, and around eight of them are selected for the project.

The Norwegian students showed great interest in the KEIJO project and enthusiastically asked Matti more about his experiences. According to Matti and Janika, experts by experience help others recover and cut loose from criminal activities with the help of peer support. They want to serve as an example to other criminals and, for example, spread the idea of good things following from good deeds.

Liv Renate, Totlandsdal Sävik and Sindre Asbjörnröd are in their last year at KRUS and expect to graduate in December. Their education lasts for two years, after which they are expected to work in the field for at least one year. According to Liv, their education differs from Laurea’s Correctional Services education in that they focus only on prisons and related services.

The students explained that no corresponding project was being carried out in Norway. In their opinion, a similar project would be welcome there. They even suggested that Janika and Matti visit their school to talk about the project so that the approach could also be applied in Norway. The Norwegian students said their study trip to Finland had been an interesting and instructive visit. According to them, Finnish and Norwegian prison services have some features in common, but the KEIJO project, for example, was something brand new to them.