Transformative Evaluation – Helsinki, Finland
On the first morning we had a presentation from Tommi Laitio who is the head of Leisure and culture for Helsinki. Here are some of my notes:
- Helsinki has 650K people
- Very young population (building a lot of nurseries)
- Average age is 27, with 5500 in each age between 10-17
- 50% of teenagers are reached every 6 months 25% are reached every month
- Strategy for every YP to have at least 1 hobby – something you do with other people regularly & potentially learn new skills (not in competition with other services)
- Principal is that “someone will miss you if you are not at the club” but no pressure or chasing up if not attending.
- 400 employees in youth dept. (250-300 are youth workers) in city – 60% have youth work degrees
- 31m euros (150 euros per YP), which has been increased every year
- Not necessarily the case in other cities in Finland
- Mission is to promote happiness & wellbeing (should be a nice place for YP “simple as that”)
- Hobby clubs run by YP ‘programmes of learning’ 2000 YP took part in a volunteering role that helped their CV (accreditation)
- Social care is being moved centrally so the core duties of the municipality will be to make sure families are happy (should be more influence and money for youth services)
One of the key differences i found was that although they have a similar satisfaction survey every year to establish if young people are happy, or if they feel supported etc. there was no ‘clambering to claim’ the outcomes from services.
Tommi said that 80-90% of YP can be themselves, feel supported – via a random YP survey on the street in new areas etc. when i asked if subsequent questions were asked relating to the impact from different services on the wellbeing of YP he said “why would we?, what does it matter? if the young people feel supported and can be happy then who cares who is responsible?”
- “We create normal experiences for marginalised YP”
- Don’t identify within the group – why would you want to be defined by your ‘need’?
We visited an amazing ‘Youth House’ with regular comparable youth club activities upstairs and a fully fitted out workshop built underground (about the size of a half full-size football pitch, with 2 youth workers waiting downstairs to make any woodwork, gold or silversmith activities with YP who were using the space. The centre had 6 youth workers upstairs between 3pm and 11pm every day, with a further 2 waiting downstairs and another 2 working n the underground skate park, which is the size of about 3 mount hawks i would say at least. unbelievable resource, with no helmets being worn, “well we recommend it but its up to them really”
Participation: One of the most memorable discoveries was that they have an embedded model of participation, similar to our Youth Parliament in that YP are put forward / nominate themselves to serve and then voted in, these YP then arrange a 2-day festival in each district of Helsinki, were they gather the thoughts of their peers (similar to the model in UK). These ideas for change are then taken to a panel and worked down to a shortlist and voted on by the population of YP at large (with unique voting numbers etc. very official). These are then take to the decision makers who will implement the demands (this is where things start to differ). last year the YP said they were having difficulty getting summer jobs so one came up with the idea that the city should provide them with a voucher that will part pay for the wages over summer. This turned into every year 10 and 11 getting a £300 euro voucher to give to an employees toward the total wage bill of their summer employment. 25% of the vouchers were used in the first year.
Other items include charging stations for mobile phones on trams and buses (which is also being implemented)
On-line youth work: Also i was struck by the way that they have embraced on-line youth work with a sims like platform called hebbo (which the YP use already) being used to create an online Youth House that has 5 youth workers working with over 250 YP each night, offering a space to socialise but also organised activities and debates etc. very forward thinking provided by Save The children Finland.