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A new project in Finland focusing on minimizing youth exclusion

In the current strategic period, the Foundation’s work in Finland has increased its focus on children and young people. A central task in the last financial year was to identify a suitable partner and suitable project through which the Foundation could address the growing problem of young people in Finland who suffer from loneliness and poor mental health. The Foundation’s board has great hopes for the BLASH collaboration, begun in 2020 with HelsinkiMissio

On the initiative of the Eva Ahlström Foundation, a three-year collaboration began in 2020 with the Berner family, Veikko Laine Oy, the Päivikki and Sakari Sohlberg Foundation, and the August Ludvig Hartwall Foundation (BLASH). The goal of the collaboration is to create a solution to make it easier to reach young people who need support before their problems become a burden on society.​

HelsinkiMissio is a social-sector organization that challenges Finns to fight for the forgotten in society and against loneliness. Loneliness is a deeper problem than financial poverty, as it affects all age and social groups. Loneliness is the cause of difficult problems in society, such as poor child welfare, depression, work incapacity and suicide among the elderly. HelsinkiMissio’s youth work attempts to reduce young people’s exclusion by providing low-threshold help which increases young people’s welfare and supports their empowerment. ​

During the first year of the project, HelsinkiMissio’s services for young people under the reigning exceptional circumstances were developed, reformed and expanded. New ways for young people to contact HelsinkiMissio, with even lower thresholds, were produced, and the professional helpers and volunteers created a presence where young people today meet e.g. online and on social media. The youth service targets for 2020 were exceeded, and a total of 1,517 young people were helped, with HelsinkiMissio meeting young people 7,589 times. Last year also saw the start of more intense collaboration with the city of Helsinki and other associations. The integration of work with youth loneliness also made further progress and extended its reach to young adults. ​

The project is exciting and unique: it gathers several organizations and families to early on support young people’s wellbeing. We see this as an investment that enables HelsinkiMissio to develop its preventative services for young people as a part of its youth services in Helsinki and in the rest of the country. The ambitious goal of the project is to develop a comprehensive and long-lasting model which can be used in schools and education as well as in other cities and municipalities in Finland.

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