The mission of the City of Helsinki's Youth Department is to support the citizenship of young people and to improve their citizenship skills. Citizenship refers to opportunities to participate in education and training, cultural activities, work life and social decision making.
The Youth Department's objective is to prevent young people in the Helsinki area from becoming excluded from the society by providing cultural and leisure time services, promoting young people's social participation and influencing policy making on issues that affect the living conditions of young people.
Citizenship skills refer to the skills, knowledge, ethical principles and experiences that individual people need to be able to grow as citizens. The Youth Department's task is to strengthen these skills alongside schools and homes. The emphasis is on young people who are at risk of social exclusion.
In 2007, the Youth Department concentrated on the common development targets of the City of Helsinki more than before. The focus was on preventing social exclusion and making services more efficient and customer orientated. The Department's main objectives in 2007 were youth policy goals and actions in Helsinki, attractive services with related facilities, diverse utilisation of media and the Internet in youth work and multicultural work.
The Youth Department helped to prevent social exclusion and enhance social participation in various ways. These included open, weekend and holiday activities, targeted support actions, various events and youth safety campaigns on May Day, New Year's Eve and the last day of school. Last year, the Department exceeded its target for the number of visits. In addition, its youth centres' weekend activities strengthened their position and more young people were reached both through one-to-one and group activities. The available cultural and event offering was further broadened in the autumn when the first digital arts festival, DigiTaika, was arranged.
The multicultural strategy (2005–2007) was in 2007 implemented through the nationwide Onnistuvat opit (Successful learning) project that focused on creating multicultural work methods and enhancing staff skills.
In accordance with the City of Helsinki's strategy, the Youth Department also focused on making its services more cost effective and customer orientated. The Department carried out a large customer study to find out what kind of services young people need and want, what they thought of the current situation and how they perceived youth work.
The Department strives to find new approaches to make youth work more diverse and appropriate. Its operations and facilities strategy acts as an efficient tool for this. During 2007, the Department started investigating whether giving up some facilities and replacing them with smaller ones or other youth services would result in cost savings that could be used to develop youth activity centres. The strategy is implemented in phases in different districts. The service network and capacity was evaluated in the large north-eastern district first. Three events where the residents and young people were able to have their say were held in December 2007.
Administrative cooperation in the youth policy action program is an example of cost-efficient and customer-oriented services. The purpose of the program is to improve the participation opportunities and welfare of children and young people in Helsinki. Participation opportunities were enhanced, for example, by creating district-wide opinion groups. Administrative cooperation was also increased when the Social Services Department, the Health Centre, the Education Department and the Youth Department started preparing a common welfare review for the next city council which will be elected in 2008.
Cost efficiency was increased with various electronic systems (such as Kosti, Analyste and the shift planning system) which were implemented in 2007. In addition, many electronic services for young people were developed (Netari project, Free Your Mind media arena, activities in IRC-Galleria and moving the Youth Department web site to the common Helsinki portal).
In the autumn, the Ministry of Education gave the Youth Department green light for a nationwide project that involves creating web-based youth work. The Youth Department is largely responsible for the project. The biggest effort on web-based youth work in 2007 was the Netari project which went nationwide in the autumn. An e-learning teacher was employed in February 2007 to coordinate and plan the project. At the beginning, the project's virtual youth centre was open for two nights a week. Towards the end of the year, it was open for three nights a week.
Capital region cooperation continued with the development of a common evaluation model. The Kymppi (Ten) Club, formed by the youth departments of the ten largest cities and towns, prepared common youth work performance measurements. The Kanuuna (Cannon) Network, formed by the youth departments of the 19 largest cities and towns, published a common web site at www.nuorisokanuuna.fi.
The Youth Department also signed a three-year cooperation agreement with the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper.
At the beginning of the year, an environmental audit was performed at the Youth Department (indicator B of sustainable development). In the audit, the different offices evaluated the ecological impact of their operations and processes and their environmental education operations. Based on the audit, the offices were rated in the Department's three-level sustainable development program. The audit was performed in 41 offices. Of these, two reached level three, eight level two and the rest level one. Information on the audit was delivered to the City's environmental financial statement.
Main services of the Youth Department in 2007:
• 53 youth centres
• About 100 different activities
• Events, courses, camps
• Holiday activities
• Support and advice
• Influencing opportunities
- Hesan Nuorten Ääni (Voice of Young People in Helsinki)
• Donations to youth organisations and independent youth groups
Important figures of 2007:
• Actual operating costs: 24.2 million euros
• Number of staff at the end of 2007: 403
• Visits: 1121137