Let’s give young people a reason to live! – Launch of the Deaconess Institute’s Christmas campaign


In Finland, we are struggling with a grave problem. Some 70 000 young people now live in social exclusion and as many as 160 000 face a high risk of becoming socially excluded. We have far too many youngsters who have dropped out of school or who have never had a job.


“Many young people have a background of loneliness, mental health and substance abuse problems, homelessness, bullying at school, and lack of money,” says Terhi Laine, director of the Helsinki Deaconess Institute’s Vamos youth service. “Overall, the problems have accumulated to an intolerable extent for young people to bear. For too many young people life has lost its meaning and the future appears devoid of hope. A young person may even feel that there’s even no real reason to live.”

Sofia, who is the face of the Deaconess Institute’s Christmas campaign, says of her own situation:

“It was already hard at primary school as I had attention deficit disorder and learning difficulties. But it was at secondary school that everything fell apart. I started to be bullied: I was left out and talked about behind my back. It really hurt a lot. My absences from school began building up. Eventually, I became depressed. I hated myself and felt that I was totally alone.”

There’s always hope

Vamos was set up 10 years ago and has already assisted some 10 000 young people. Over 50 % of youngsters in Vamos get back to school or to work within a year, and 87 % feel that their lives have changed for the better. Each young person starting with Vamos gets a personal support person who has the time to get to know their needs. Support is geared to planning for day-to-day life as well as for the future. Gradually, the service works together with the young person to find a way to attend school or employment. We may also assign young participants their own personal Amigo mentor.

“When I joined the Deaconess Institute’s Vamos, it felt as if I’d started a new chapter in my life. I got my own support person, with whom we sorted out my daily routine, money matters, and loneliness. It’s a relief that there’s someone by your side with whom you can work out everything. I’m no longer alone with my problems.”

Small acts can have a big impact – every one of us can help

This year, we have launched the Reason to Live Christmas campaign, aimed at getting help and community support to increasingly more young people for them to discover their own resources and place in society. The campaign’s funds are being used for assisting young people through the services provided by the Helsinki Deaconess Institute.

“Our support is impressive and we are already operating in eight locations in cooperation with other actors in the region, such as schools and municipal authorities. Unfortunately, too many young people remain outside the scope of assistance. I hope that ordinary people and businesses will join our campaign so that we will be able to help as many young people as possible next year. What could be a better Christmas present than giving a young person a reason to live? asks Laine.

It’s easy to make a donation. You can do so

  • on the campaign webpage www.hdl.fi/syyelaa (in Finnish)
  • by bank transfer: FI85 2065 1800 1084 62 with the reference message: Christmas present for youth;
  • by texting TOIVO to 16499 (€20).

On social media the campaign has the hash tag #SyyElää. You can take part in supporting the campaign by saying what or who gives you a reason to live.

Further information:

Terhi Laine, Service Area Director, Helsinki Deaconess Institute, terhi.laine@hdl.fi, Tel. +358 40 023 7775

Laura Niemi, Communications Director, Helsinki Deaconess Institute, laura.niemi@hdl.fi, Tel. +358 50 373 8602

The Helsinki Deaconess Institute is a charitable foundation boldly working for human dignity. We provide effective services for people who are at risk of help people at risk of social exclusion. The aim of our work is to ensure that everyone has the chance of a dignified life. www.hdl.fi


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