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Editorial: New ways for meeting

Finnish people have been isolated in their homes due to the coronavirus epidemic – or those who have had the opportunity to do so. However, some of us don’t get along alone at home. There are also vulnerable people among us with a need for special support. Difficult life situations, decreased abilities to function or loneliness haven’t disappeared anywhere. Rather, the exceptional situation can increase concern and the sense of insecurity.

Essential public services operate but many activities supporting everyone’s everyday life are dependent on organizational activities and volunteering. Finnish well-being is partly based on a strong civil society and on the mutual trust and help between people. In this activity, volunteering plays an important role.

As 76% of volunteer activities are traditionally carried out face-to-face, some of the activities are now automatically on a break. Meetings, courses or peer meetings that support everyday life will be waiting for the next time. 53 % of the elderly tell that they have volunteered during the last four weeks and 58 % during the last year (Citizen Forum, the Church Council and Sivis Study Center had a survey by Taloustutkimus made in which 1000 Finns were interviewed in the spring of 2018.). It’s also noteworthy that many of them have some chronic disease. Therefore, many of them belong to a risk group for coronavirus themselves.

The fear of the support that people receive is now real. With the help of preventative work, it has been possible to support people in coping in everyday life. The exceptional situation now challenges organizations to consider new ways to meet and offer support. In addition to agility and capability of resilience, we also measure how we have been able to prepare for the digital leap. Are streaming- and webinar devices ready and do the skills needed for web meetings exist?

Now we have to hope that the teachings of Digi-Kyllis and IT-tutors have been useful to those who have been recommended to be isolated from others. Now, more than ever, we need to communicate and exchange stories, we need skills to socialize with grandchildren on Skype and exchange stories on social media. On the other hand, all things are not so easy to handle through electronic devices. For example, how to create such atmosphere to a peer support -chat that everyone dares to take part in it?

However, physical visits are still needed – in spite of everything. Let’s carry them out sensibly and follow instructions: let’s not run our own or somebody else’s errands when sick, let’s keep a proper physical distance and wash our hands! We can cope with this too, together!

Text: Elina Varjonen

Executive Director of Citizen Forum

Translation: Kati Merikoski

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