Diversity as an Asset

Stavanger has inhabitants from 181 countries, and this makes up to 22% of the population. Many are new to town and do not have the normal family network of grandparents and other relatives when they need babysitters or other small favours. Who should they use when the need for babysitting or help with homework is required?

Alla Muminova arrives to our interview dressed in a Stavanger Barn t-shirt. We´ve invited her to come and talk to us about this new service in the Stavanger region, called Stavanger Barn. She doesn´t have a lot of time to talk to us, as she´s off to help a family with tutoring, related to foreign languages.

Alla was born and grew up in Russia, but she’s very familiar with Stavanger as she did her Engineering degree at the Stavanger University. She has worked as a babysitter both in Russia and Stavanger while studying. Alla has a Master degree in Environmental Offshore Technology from 2016, however the job market for engineers in 2016 was not the best. Alla has a family in Stavanger and because she wants to stay here, she started her own business. Two main aspects are behind this business idea, her knowledge and the love of working with children. In addition, she is in contact with people from the international network in Stavanger and she is aware of the lack of babysitting services.

«I know how difficult it can be for new families to find babysitters who know their language and which will give the security a child needs», Alla says. «In most cultures, you don´t just ask the neighbours whether they know of any local teenagers who are up for babysitting, or hang up a note on the information board in your local store. They need to know that responsible and qualified person will be looking after their children through an authorised service. Stavanger Barn is such a service», she adds.

Many cultures have a far stricter attitude as to who can look after their children due to various safety aspects. Alla saw there was a need for a systematic service, where people need professional babysitters with first aid knowledge, language skills as well as pedagogical skills. Stavanger Barn does a run-through with each family, so that the babysitter can familiarise with the child and the house, prior to babysitting or tutoring. 

Stavanger Barn
recruits their babysitters and tutors amongst students and others who are interested in working part-time. «For our company diversity is of the utmost importance», Alla says.

«Our customer base is primarily among the international community; hence language and cultural awareness is very important. The same goes for the tutoring. Lots of parents are interested in extra tutoring for their children and it´s a great advantage when this can be done in their native language. As the region has such a wide variety of nationalities and languages, it´s wonderful that this group want to share their knowledge. We want the children to have the best possible experience» Alla explains. 

Stavanger Barn
has developed a booking system where the main languages are Norwegian and English, however we have babysitters and tutors who among others speak Spanish, Russian and Arabic.

Alla continues, «according to the Norwegian law, our people must not have a criminal record. In addition, they need to do a first aid course before being allowed to work for us. We also aim to give the family the same babysitter. Sometimes parents might be away for the night and then our babysitters move in. Our product is tailor-made to suit each family; therefore, communication is key for all parties to feel confident. It´s a big responsibility for all involved» 

«Tutoring and babysitting as a paid service is common in other countries, however is a little unusual for Norway where people exchange services or call on grandparents or neighbours», Alla says. Stavanger Barn creates a “win/win” situation for the families needing assistance and for students and newcomers without a network needing part-time work. Stavanger Barn hopes the service will be of great use for international and Norwegian families. «We are here to help parents in their daily routine! And we surely hope that our diversity can assist in building cultural bridges in a region that needs the international skilled workforce» Alla Muminova concludes. 

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