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Courage to care – the Helsinki Deaconess Institute at 150

The Helsinki Deaconess Institute is one of Finland’s oldest communities in continuous operation. It was established in 1867 as a hospital for infectious diseases and a place where young women were trained as deaconesses to assist people in distress. For the past 150 years, the institute has pioneered new solutions in social terrains where human dignity is under threat.

The institute was founded when Finland was hard hit by crop failures, famine and infectious disease. The challenges encountered at end of the 19th century have much in common with those of today. Social exclusion, loneliness, homelessness and substance abuse comprise the main, as yet unsolved, problems in our welfare state. Today’s welfare ‘shadow zones’ also have global causes, which have introduced new problems for us to tackle in Finland. Current challenges include issues related to migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

We cannot solve such issues by ourselves. Solutions need to be sought in collaboration with other actors. This is why the institute will observe the centenary of Finland’s independence in the spirit of the theme of Working Together.

– The past year has shown us that now more than ever we need to be able to take responsibility for other people and the courage to defend the inalienability of human dignity. Centenary Finland can afford to bear responsibility for the most vulnerable people. They deserve the opportunity to participate, make use of their attributes and capabilities and to feel themselves to be valued members of our community,” says the institute’s President Olli Holmström.

The anniversary of the Helsinki Deaconess Institute will kick off with a Lanterns Festival on 5 January at 16.00. We will light candle lanterns in the Alppikatu courtyard, at least one for each year of the institute’s existence. The lanterns have been painted with the help of our clients, residents and members of staff.

– We welcome each and everyone to come along and light up the darkness, says Olli Holmström.

2017 anniversary programme

Please, note that the programme is presented in Finnish.

Lantern Festival 5 January, 16.00
Helsinki Deaconess Institute, Alppikatu 2, Helsinki
The programme includes music and hot drinks.
Open to all.

Publication launch
of a history of the Helsinki Deaconess Institute, 10 March, 09.00
Helsinki Deaconess Institute, Alppikatu 2, Helsinki
The chronicle of the Helsinki Deaconess Institute’s 150 years by Dr Jyrki Paaskoski will be launched on the name day of the founder of the institute Aurora Karamzin.
Press briefing

SuomiAreena, Pori, 10-14 July
The Helsinki Deaconess Institute will take part in the public discussion forums SuomiAreena in Pori and in Citizens’ Square (Kansalaistori) in Helsinki.
Open to all

City Block Party 24 August, 11.00–18.00
Helsinki Deaconess Institute, Alppikatu 2, Helsinki
Everyone is welcome to come an celebrate together with both HDL’s staff, clients, volunteers, partners and city folk.
Open to all

Anniversary Service 17 December, 10.00
Kallio Church, Itäinen Papinkatu 2, Helsinki
Open to all


Further information and media contacts

Laura Niemi
Communications Director
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Tel. +358 50 373 8602

Markku Niskanen
Communications Manager
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Tel. +358 50 306 8634

Jaana af Hällström
Anniversary Events Coordinator
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Tel. +358 40 485 3545

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