Itis Symppis moving to a new location in April

Substance Abuse Services’ day activity centre Symppis will open its doors in Itäkeskus in April at Kajaanlinnantie 10, the previous facilities of the Helsinki Upper Secondary School of Languages. Both the facilities and the yard area will need to undergo some alterations before Symppis opens.
Itäkeskus Symppis is moving to a new location. Photo: Virpi Velin
Itäkeskus Symppis is moving to a new location. Photo: Virpi Velin

Finding suitable facilities for Symppis has been difficult. Now that they have been found, the City will immediately commence discussions with the area’s residents and operators. We will provide more information about these discussion events separately once their exact dates have been determined.

The facilities on Kajaaninlinnantie will be used by Symppis for about 2 years. During this time, permanent premises will be sought for Symppis in eastern Helsinki.

“Given the nature of the service, it is very important to engage in open and transparent discussion with local residents and operators about safety and security perspectives and all issues that raise concerns,” says Director of Housing, Crisis and Substance Abuse Services Mikko Tamminen from the City of Helsinki. 

The alteration of the building and the yard will begin soon. The building is located close to Daycare Centre Puotila and not very far from Itäkeskus Comprehensive School. This imposes special requirements concerning the design of the facilities and necessitates measures for ensuring safety and security. 

“The alterations will include making sure that the entrances to Symppis and the daycare centre are in different parts of the area and that their yards are completely separated with a fence. You won’t be able to see from one yard to the other after that,” says Client Manager Heidi Nielsen from the Urban Environment Division.    

Symppis will be open Mon–Fri 10.00-15.00, and there will always be a guard on-site during opening hours. We will ensure the safety, security and cleanliness of the area with environmental and neighbourhood work. This neighbourhood work will be carried out by designated Symppis employees, who representatives of the neighbourhood can easily contact, when necessary.

Broad range of services for people with substance abuse issues

Symppis is intended for people dealing with substance abuse issues. Symppis provides health and social counselling to vulnerable clients and, if necessary, guidance on how to access other services.

The service is statutory, and Helsinki is obligated to organise the service according to local needs. Itis Symppis operated on Turunlinnantie in Itäkeskus until the end of 2023. When the lease ended, the City was unable to find new facilities for Symppis right away. As a result, clients in Itäkeskus were provided with services out of a mobile unit and Kontula Symppis. However, this change has led to a significant increase in the client numbers of Kontula Symppis and is therefore not a viable long-term solution.

Symppis provides clients with clean needles and syringes and information on safe injection practices. The day activity centre also offers HIV and HCV rapid tests and vaccines, in addition to which there is a doctor on-site on a weekly basis. 

The day activity centre provides clients with access to a computer and the opportunity to get help with matters related to livelihood and employment, for example. 

The centre serves porridge, coffee and bread. Clients can also come to Symppis just to rest or catch up with employees, peer supporters and other clients.

In addition to Itäkeskus, Helsinki has Symppis centres in Kontula and Sörnäinen and a Mobile Symppis that provides health advice in different parts of the city. The timetable and stops of the Mobile Symppis are available on the City’s website.