Municipalities in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area have started to co-operate more closely on mobile youth work. Young people are advised to stay home and avoid social gatherings. Most of them have followed this advice. However, there is a special need for mobile youth work at this time, since young people need support and information.
Now that all recreational activities and schools are closed, the social circles of young people have been significantly reduced. The young people who may move about outdoors need to receive accurate information about the current situation.
Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen carry out mobile youth work both regionally and in co-operation with each other, coordinated by the Nuorisotyö raiteilla (NTR, ‘youth work on track’) project. The NTR youth worker pairs move about in locations such as trains and meeting places by the railway in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.
“Youth work is now more important than ever. We’re practically the only active operator in young people’s free time, and that’s why our updated forms of youth work are important to them. It’s especially important to meet with young people in the places they frequent. There is a special need for mobile youth work now, and the youth workers are particularly respected among young people, parents and guardians, residents, decision-makers and other authorities,” says Pekka Mäkelä, acting Head of Vantaa’s Youth Services.
The municipalities collaborate closely with the police and form a picture of how young people are experiencing the situation. The municipalities also work with organisations such as Children of the Station (Aseman Lapset). Youth workers follow the Finnish Government’s policies closely and act accordingly. They adhere to the recommended safety distances and hand hygiene measures.
Mobile youth work means that youth workers move about on streets, in residential areas and in public or partially public places, such as stations and shopping centres. Youth workers have conversations with young people and aim to secure young people’s well-being, increase understanding, and improve a general sense of safety. When necessary, youth workers can also influence young people’s behaviour using various methods of youth work. However, youth workers do not patrol to maintain order or break up crowds – they are there for young people.
The Finnish Government has defined youth workers as critical to the functioning of society.