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Helsinki's welfare plan aims to reduce inequalities in welfare and health

The City of Helsinki Welfare Plan 2022–2025 was approved by the City Council on 16th November. The welfare plan is one way to reduce inequalities in welfare and health of Helsinki residents, to contribute improving the quality of life of the city's residents and to implement the "A Place of Growth” city strategy of the City Council.
Ice swimming.
Photo: Helsinki Material Bank / Sasa Tkalcan.

The content of the welfare plan has been built on the city strategy as well as using the city's comprehensive research data, which indicates the challenges of the population’s welfare. The welfare plan will guide, implement and develop effective and knowledge-based work in promoting welfare of Helsinki residents and in prevention of segregation. 

Helsinki's work to promote welfare and health is guided by a systematic and holistic approach, based on definitions of social quality and the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. These focus on quality-of-life experiences of city residents, with a focus on the physical, mental and social well-being of the individual and the health and functionality of the living environment, including access to key services. 

The welfare plan plays an important role in promoting the objectives of social sustainability, in particular health and welfare, reducing inequalities, sustainable cities and communities, and eradicating poverty. More indirectly, the plan supports many other UN goals. 

The welfare plan is being implemented by all City of Helsinki divisions and the City Executive Office in cooperation with partners, such as organisations and educational institutions. The plan has six priorities for promoting welfare and health: mental well-being, leisure and recreation, physical activity, healthy lifestyles, good community relations and a safe and beautiful city. 

Mental well-being

The mental well-being of Helsinki residents is being strengthened by developing early support, low-threshold preventive services, access to help and the use of self-care services. Mental health service chains for children and young people, interactive skills for children and young people, youth work in schools and the work for the ‘Hyvän mielen kunta’ project are also being developed.

Hobbies and leisure

Volunteering, peer support activities and the promotion of arts and culture as a factor for well-being will be promoted across all age groups. Hobby- and Culture Kids activities, cultural work with the elderly and arts and cultural experiences in homes for the elderly will be developed. Helsinki's model of cultural work will be implemented in the urban renewal areas and the development of the Finnish Model for Leisure Activities will continue.  

Physical activity

Work to promote mobility will be targeted at the least physically active Helsinki residents. Awareness of physical exercise opportunities for people of all ages, including during early childhood education and care, school and study days, will be raised. The functional capacity of the elderly will be strengthened through a mobility agreement and more guided physical activity. City employees will be encouraged to exercise regularly, and awareness of Helsinki's sports and exercise opportunities will be raised among citizens of all ages. Overall, the work of the Physical Activity Programme will continue.

Healthy lifestyles

Healthier lifestyles will be promoted through nutrition education for professionals and the use of digital tools. Well-being cafés for children and young people will be organised, and the use of the Finger operating model for the elderly will be reinforced. Other memory-friendly developments will also be strengthened during the term of office of the council. Substance abuse prevention methods will be strengthened through measures targeted at different population groups and the ‘Intoxicants and Addictions in Families with Children’ service chain work will be developed.

Good community relations

Interaction between population groups and individuals from different population groups will be increased and people's sense of security and attitudes will be influenced. The pluralism of citizens and their equal opportunities to participate and exert influence will be strengthened and, for example in OmaStadi, the participation of groups identified as under-represented in previous rounds will be promoted at all stages of the process. Equality will be supported and strengthened through multi-channel communication, taking into account different population groups and districts. Solutions to undesirable phenomena such as radicalisation and gang activity in different parts of the city will be sought. The rights of children will be addressed through UNICEF*s Child-Friendly Municipality model. Employment for people with disabilities will be improved, as will digital skills.

A safe and beautiful city

Safe everyday environments and a pleasant living environment will be promoted and efforts will be made to better identify and address safety challenges in different areas. By drawing up guidelines for pedestrian areas and improving pedestrian crossings, safe movement in urban areas will improve. The Percentage for Art principle will give citizens the opportunity to experience and encounter art in their neighbourhoods. The increase in intimate partner violence will be tackled, and awareness about safety in the home and local living environments will be increased. In addition, measures to support the well-being and security of informal care families will be strengthened.

“The welfare plan adopted by the City Council provides a good backbone for improving the welfare of citizens across the board. It is hard to imagine a more important topic for developing a better society,” says Ville Lehmuskoski, Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Steering Group and Executive Director of the Urban Environment Division.

Reformed legislation guides the content of the welfare plan

In connection with the health and social services reform, the work of municipal welfare and health promotion is regulated in more detail in Section 6 of the Act on Organising Healthcare and Social Welfare Services (Promotion of welfare and health in municipalities). The act obliges the City of Helsinki to prepare a welfare plan and report for the City Council every council term in cooperation with the HUS Group. During the council's term of office, cooperation practices with the HUS group will be established. 

Measuring change in the welfare, health and safety of Helsinki residents

The welfare plan has a total of 50 sets of objectives and 106 measures. The welfare plan has 47 impact indicators to describe changes in the welfare, health and safety of the population. The implementation of the plan will be monitored and the practice established in the previous council period will be continued, whereby a monitoring report on the success of the content of the welfare plan (the City of Helsinki's Health and Welfare Promotion Barometer) will be presented annually to the City Council for information in connection with the discussion of the financial statements. Wider reporting (comprehensive welfare report) will be done at the end of the council term and its content, in addition to the information provided by the Urban Research and Statistics Unit, will always serve as the information base for the next council term's welfare plan.