Tampere rewarded people working for the benefit of others
Every year, the City of Tampere selects and rewards people who have made a particular effort to enhance the well-being of others. On 22 November 2022, the Adult of the Year and Volunteer of the Year recognition awards, the Hyvä haltija special commendation and Lampun henki prize were awarded at an event at the City Hall.
This year, the theme for the prizes is safety. City residents had an opportunity to nominate potential winners. The Education and Culture Committee selected the winners on the basis of these suggestions at their meeting in November. Deputy Mayor Matti Helimo states that Tampere is a place where a lot of meaningful, impressive and altruistic work is done for the children and young people of the city.
– For my part, and on behalf of the city, I would like to thank all the volunteers. Voluntary work is truly meaningful and effective, and it complements the city’s services and work done at home. This year’s theme, safety, could not be more topical. It is great that we received so many suggestions for potential prize winners, Helimo says.
Olli Viljakainen is the Adult of the Year
Olli Viljakainen, pastor for young adults at the Old Church of Tampere was awarded the Adult of the Year recognition. Viljakainen has done a great job to support and help young people at Laikunlava Outdoor Stage and in Kirjastonpuisto Park.
Olli Viljakainen has opened the premises of the Old Church for use by, for example, A-kilta’s Katukilta that provides addiction care on the streets. He is also a member of the Laikunlava activists, who work closely with the Kaarikoirat skateboarding association and YAD - Youth against Drugs in the running of Skeittitapuli services for skateboarders in the summer. Viljakainen has also been involved in planning the Walk in therapy, which refers to individual therapy appointments for 16 to 30 year-olds. The Walk in therapy can be used to discuss difficult life situations, crises and challenges. It is free of charge and no bookings are required: you can use the service only once or more often. The appointments are available at the Old Church on Mondays from 13:00 to 18:00 and at the Hervanta Community Centre L8 on Wednesdays from 12:00 to 16:00.
–I am very grateful and touched by this recognition. I have been involved in enabling the work that we do in the Old Church area together with my colleagues, volunteers and other actors. I am very grateful to all of them for the work we have done together. This recognition encourages us to continue loving and caring, which at best changes individual people, communities and even society, says Olli Viljakainen.
The Volunteer of the Year recognition to Aamukorva’s on-call volunteer Tuomas Waldén
The Volunteer of the Year recognition was awarded to Tuomas Waldén, who serves as an on-call volunteer in the Aamukorva telephone service that offers help to older people. For 35 years, Aamukorva has helped over 200 000 elderly people to combat loneliness. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic and the unstable world situation, Tuomas Waldén has carried out valuable, easily accessible voluntary activities that promote and support local residents’ safe everyday life, sense of security and mental well-being in a very literal sense.
Aamukorva was established in Tampere in 1987 as part of TampereMissio’s work. There has been a need for the service among the elderly. The activities expanded from Tampere to Helsinki in 2000, where it is the responsibility of Helsinki Missio.
In Aamukorva, trained volunteers answer calls from 6:00 to 9:00 every day of the year. In Tampere, there are 40 volunteers on duty. You can call the service anonymously and the calls are confidential. In other words, Aamukorva’s volunteers answer the phone right when many elderly people feel at their loneliest. Every year, approximately 3,200 calls are answered by Aamukorva in Tampere.
Tuomas Waldén says he is positively surprised and touched by the recognition.
– I see my own role as a volunteer as a bit of a jack-of-all-trades that has the will to genuinely encounter people struggling with everyday challenges and to encourage them to carry on despite the setbacks. Even the smallest effort to reach out can help more than we can imagine, Tuomas Waldén says.
– I find my contribution rather modest, so it is great that my work has been considered worthy of remembering. In other words, nobody needs to be a superhero in the voluntary sector to be appreciated for their work.
Topical social issues, such as the coronavirus epidemic and the war in Ukraine, have increased the number of callers to Aamukorva. Unfortunately, many elderly people have nobody to talk to at all, yet many of them feel a need to express their concerns raised by the situations.
The Hyvä haltija special commendation to the Linja20 project
The special commendation Hyvä haltija [Fairy godparent] was also awarded at the event for significant work done for the children and young people of Tampere. This year, the special commendation was given to the Linja20 project.
“The Linja20 project has significantly eased the feeling of loneliness in me and many other people, brought people together and made my outlook on life more positive in many ways. After the substance abuse, I was left with nothing and Linja20 entered my life like a guardian angel coming to the rescue.” This is stated in one message suggesting that the Linja20 project be rewarded.
Linja20 is a project coordinated by TampereMissio and implemented between 2020 and 2023. It enables support and activities for 18 to 29 year-olds who are not employed or studying. Young people who are involved in the activities can participate in individual coaching, as well as in groups, meeting places and excursions. The project employs young volunteers trained as mentors who work as friends and with whom it is easy to talk and do things together.
The Lampun henki award to Mirva Ritari and Elli Rasimus
The Lampun henki [Genie] award was given to Mirva Ritari, Head of Early Childhood Education and Care in the municipality of Lempäälä, and Elli Rasimus, Director of Early Childhood Education and Care in the City of Tampere, for their work in actively promoting cultural education in early childhood education and care. Mirva Ritari and Elli Rasimus are advocates for cultural education and thus enablers of equal cultural inclusion of children. Since 2009, the children’s cultural centres in Pirkanmaa have awarded the Lampun henki prize annually to people who are active in children’s culture. The purpose of the award is to draw attention to the right of children to be children and the importance of cultural education as a promoter of children’s well-being.
Mirva Ritari and Elli Rasimus have created both structural and ideological space for children’s artistic agency and art education in early childhood education and care. Led by Ritari, the cultural education programme Lempäälän Kulttuurirappuset [Lempäälä Cultural Steps] has become more strongly integrated into the local early childhood education and care plan, and its contents have also been developed for inclusion in family day care. A good example of this is the development project Artist in Family Day Care in spring 2022. In Tampere, Rasimus has enabled making the Art Arc pilot into a permanent activity with her positive and constructive attitude. Thanks to Rasimus, the Art Arc has been integrated into the Early Childhood Education and Care Plan of Tampere City. This makes it possible for thousands of children to have art experiences and artistic experiments as part of their days in early childhood education and care.
All prizes were awarded at the event at the City Hall on 22 November 2022.