New Helsinki Aid phone service.

New Helsinki Helpline phone service to assist seniors during coronavirus epidemic

On 20 March, the City of Helsinki announced that it would be collaborating with Helsinki parishes and charities to provide a new phone service for the elderly. Helsinki Helpline seeks to support older people who have been told to self-isolate, and provide them with practical assistance in their everyday lives.

Earlier this week, the Finnish government determined that residents over the age of 70 should stay at home until further notice to limit possible coronavirus exposure. Older people were asked to only venture outdoors to maintain their health and well-being, and refrain from contact with other people. In Helsinki alone, this recommendation applies to approximately 80,000 seniors, with those over 80 years of age accounting for some 27,000 of this sum.

“The City of Helsinki will work together with our partners to do everything we can to support and assist the daily lives of our elderly residents at this crucial time. Next week we will launch a new Helsinki Helpline phone service that aims to call everyone in Helsinki over the age of 80 on the phone, and assess their need for assistance,” said Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori.

Many Helsinki residents join charity workers and parish employees in a desire to be of help in some way during this uncertain time. The new Helsinki Helpline service will contact seniors by phone in the coming weeks, providing a friendly voice to talk to and perhaps an offer to take care of grocery shopping or trips to the pharmacy. The service will combine the work of professionals and volunteers in one coordinated service.

The Helsinki Helpline will target seniors over the age of 70. The phone service will attempt to call everyone in the city over the age of 80, as well as open another service line that seniors over 70 can call up on their own initiative.

“This kind of approach will bring together people in need of assistance and people that want to be of help in a meaningful and safe way. It is one way to make sure that no one will be left alone. It has been heart-warming to see how many spontaneous neighbourly initiatives have already sprung up in different districts of the city, housing companies and social media groups”, said Juha Rintamäki, Director of the Parish Union of Helsinki.

The new Helsinki Helpline number will join several other existing channels offering help and support to the elderly, including the City of Helsinki’s Seniori-Info line, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland’s phone and chat services, and the help numbers of many individual parishes and charities.

Those interested in volunteering for the new service should contact vapaaehtoistoiminta@hel.fi via email. City of Helsinki staff will receive instructions for volunteering in the coming week.

18.03. Senior Info is open longer

Photo: Istock