Neighbourhoods get own borough liaisons

Seven borough liaisons have been hired to promote citizen participation. The areas of the borough liaisons were published in May. Each borough liaison has been given neighbourhoods, in which he or she furthers citizen initiatives and helps networks in the area to find each other.

– We are bridge-builders between the citizen and the city, we establish connections to the city organisation with others who engage in participation work, says Outi Rissanen, borough liaison for north-eastern Helsinki.

The borough liaisons confirm in unison that they are excited and full of expectations ahead of the new job.

– I am ready to break down prejudices, if we should meet such, says Jarkko Laaksonen, borough liaison for southern Helsinki.

The borough liaisons will begin by planning how to best reach out to the residents, companies and communities and become known in their own areas. In the future, they can be contacted through electronic channels or met, for example, at a library, playground or events. Initially, the liaisons outline the co-operation networks, needs and resources in their own areas.

– I am waiting to be able to further the community relations in my area, says Silja Lindblad, borough liaison for western Helsinki. On the same track is Antti Sarpo, borough liaison for the central neighbourhoods, who hopes to be able to guide the citizens through the complicated city organisation.

The areas of the borough liaison have mainly been allocated according to the seven major districts of the city. The population of the major districts varies from about 40,000 to over 100,000, which is why the district division has been reworked a bit. The attachment includes a list of the neighbourhoods allocated to each city pilot.

Ella Tanskanen from the northern major district wants to build new kinds of activities, specifically activities rooted in the needs of the citizens. A colleague, Belinda Barbato from the eastern major district and Östersundom, wants to start off by getting to know the residents and players in her area, and sorting out what kind of ideas the residents already have for developing their own area.

"Participatory budgeting on the city level is a new thing"

The borough liaisons note that the city already offers a lot of opportunities for interaction and participation, but a new thing in the operations of the city is the participatory budgeting, which commences in autumn. There, the citizens get to decide annually the purposes for which a sum of €4.4 million is spent. The borough liaisons work together with other city player to ensure that the preparation of area-specific projects is carried out in a multivoiced and equal manner.

– The aim is to make all citizens join in. Even those who have not participated before, says Pauli Saloranta, borough liaison for the southeastern major district and Vuosaari.

The kick-off seminar presenting participatory budgeting on 31 May invited together citizens, city employees and experts of participation. New forms of participation were discussed at the seminar. The Potkua osallisuuteen ("Boost to participation") event was open to everyone.

Areas of the borough liaisons