The Helsinki Deaconess Foundation: ¡Vamos! Voices unheard

In 2018, there were more than 60,000 marginalized young people in Finland. The recent social crises, the shift of schools to remote teaching, and the layoffs of several jobs are likely to have only exacerbated and deepened the plight of these young people. A large group of young men have fallen – or will fall – out of society. The reasons are already beginning to be known: schools do not have the needed resources and the current labor market is no longer based on primary school alone. Mental health problems are like a plague and are often the cause for dropping out of the education system. Underlying the cycle of exclusion are problems such as school bullying, incompetence and dependency on income support – a generational misfortune, where parents often suffer from exactly the same problems themselves. All in all, there is a gap in the safety net of the welfare state that is tens of thousands of young people.

The Vamos youth service of the Helsinki Deaconess Foundation offers young people free volunteer-based counselling on all levels of life. In 2018, these young people created something totally new: a media hub whose aim is to tell stories in social media through video, photos and text – stories from the lives of the young people of Vamos. The media hub created a campaign together with Måndag, and Måndag paid each person in the media hub a fee (1,200 euros) for their participation.

The big question has been how to integrate young people into working life and society. Companies and organizations as partners are needed to help with this work. In 2021 Måndag  continued the work by helping to create a partnership strategy. Together with the Deaconess Institute, we have started to support young people towards school and working life through the Vamos program.

The Deaconess Institute (Diakonissalaitos) has supported young people aged 16-29 for several years. The young person receives support for both the basics of everyday life and planning for the future. The activity is voluntary and free of charge for young people. Assistance is particularly focused on young people who find it difficult to cope with everyday life, mental health, housing, money and access to school and work. 86% of the young people involved in services in 2020 felt that their lives had changed for the better.