Deaconess Foundation launches dialogues on the future


 “Power over the future must not be in the hands of a few people”.

To build a good and decent future for all, we need ideas from all corners of society. The Deaconess Foundation is launching debates on the future at its various branches, from Hel-sinki to Rovaniemi. “If democracy is to be saved, power over the future must not be in the hands of a few people. Vulnerable people must be included in the social debate,” says Maija Hyle of the Deaconess Foundation.

Two people drawing a poster.

The poster has the text: Hear us!

In recent years, the debate on the future has expanded from academic seminars to the daily work of organisations of all kinds. Megatrends, weak signals and different scenarios for the future analysed and debated in developing the work of companies, the public sector and various organisations. The direction is right, but the pace and depth are insufficient.

“Democracy is fragile. At the Deaconess Foundation, we can no longer be complacent about how polarised people’s participation is nowadays. Or, conversely, about how difficult it is for non-specialists to get involved in the debate on the future,” explains Hyle, the Director of Non-Profit Activities at the foundation.

We need ideas from all corners of society

“To build a good and decent future for all, we need ideas from all corners of society. Expert talk is not enough. That’s why we have started dialogues on the future at the Deaconess Foundation, to which we invite all our branches around the country that are interested,” says Hyle.

These dialogues will take place at so-called ‘Observatories’, which will initially be set up in at least 12 locations. The outcomes of the dialogues will be collated and analysed for further use. A synopsis of them will be made available to the Ministry of Finance, and the material will be used, for ex-ample, when the Open Government Strategy plans its own activities with citizens. The results will also be used in the Deaconess Foundation’s own advocacy work and in the planning of development projects.

“One of the tasks of the Open Government work is to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate and make a difference in the way they want. For the Ministry of Finance, the Observatories are a valuable way to reach people who cannot be reached through traditional open events,” says Katju Holkeri, Head of the Administrative Policy Unit at the Ministry of Finance.

“The Ministry of Finance has the opportunity to influence how the information gathered reaches decision-makers, developers and civil servants in public administration.”

The future is not a difficult topic

“We want to take the debate on the future to where people are, for example to our low-threshold civic activity D-stations, our drug replacement therapy units, our housing services for people with physical and intellectual disabilities, our Vamos youth services and, for example, Olohuone (the Living Room) for asylum seekers who came to Finland alone as minors,” says expert Maiju Lehto.

The debate on the future is often conducted in difficult terms that can be challenging to grasp. The topics may also be too far removed from people’s everyday lives. In discussions at the Deaconess Foundation, special attention is paid to language.

“The future itself is not a difficult topic. For example, in the discussions we think about what a good everyday life would include in the future. And what people think they would need in order to have a good everyday life,” says Lehto.

“We don’t shy away from difficult topics or big concerns, but the main focus of the discussions is on a hopeful future,” says Maiju Lehto.

The Deaconess Foundation has a strong background in organising dialogues and bringing different people together. Now, dialogues on the future are being organised in a more forward-looking way and in a variety of different sections of the foundation at the same time.

The foundation’s dialogues on the future will be held in early 2023, with Ellun Kanat Ltd and the Ministry of Finance’s Open Government initiative as initial partners. The outcomes will be available during the spring. After that, the work on shaping the future will continue and expand.

Further information

Maija Hyle, Director of Non-Profit Work, Deaconess Foundation,, +358 50 434 1123
Maiju Lehto, Expert, Deaconess Foundation,, +358 50 575 3339

Media contacts also: Jenni Sarolahti, Communications Manager, Deaconess Foundation,, +358 50 372 0828

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