"I ended up as the honorary consul for Norway as I happened to know the retiring consul very well. As for Finland, your ambassador had the idea that I might be suitable for this. He could see that I was already doing this for Norway and asked me if I was prepared to cover Finland as well", she says.
Finland has 26 honorary consulates in the UK. Their main function is to monitor and assist Finnish people living or visiting the area.
"The honorary consul is there to look out for the people in the area. I am covering Devon and Cornwall. My role is to be a point of contact for the people. I also look after the commercial needs of Norway and Finland."
The honorary is also expected to try to assist and facilitate trade between the two countries.
"We have a large yacht builder here in Plymouth, Princess Yachts. They supply Finnish companies as well, so those connections are already set up. If there was a Finnish company looking to do business in Plymouth I would obviously do what I could to facilitate it."
The consulates used to issue visas and passports but these days that falls into the responsibility of the embassy.
"I still do passports for Norwegian children. They can still apply through the honorary consul. I am not sure if they do this for Finland since I’ve only just started."
In addition to being an honorary consul Sanders also works full time as a plant procurement facilitator for BD (Becton Dickinson UK Ltd.). As the position of an honorary consul is unpaid, the work itself must be rewarding.
"It is great when you can help somebody, which is the best thing about this. For example I’ve helped some elderly people from Norway who needed assistance with their passports. I believe it will be similar with Finland."
According to Sanders the work is not very time consuming.
"It doesn’t really take that much time. Finland and Norway are similar in that sense that you don’t have that many people. It is more a matter of managing my day, and my employer is very understanding and flexible."
Sanders lives on the edge of Dartmoor with her husband and their dog. She loves traveling and while she hasn’t yet managed to visit Finland, she has been to Norway several times. During her free time she enjoys walking with her dog and reading.