Christmas 2020 will surely be remembered for the coronavirus pandemic. More people than ever before will be spending Christmas alone or in isolation. The City of Helsinki, Helsinki parishes and MIELI Mental Health Finland have joined forces to prevent loneliness and put together a collection of online services and activities that can bring joy, light and hope to the holiday season, despite the circumstances. This Christmas season, the Art Gift campaign, which was introduced during last summer’s Helsinki Festival, will be repackaged to provide wonderful presents to new recipients.
The summary of holiday season services is available at hel.fi/joulu2020. The website provides links and tips for spending the corona Christmas engaged in outdoor activities or virtual events and services. It also lists contact information that can help cope with the extraordinary circumstances.
The website features instructions on how to find moments of calm, places for quiet reflection and new activities in Helsinki through online channels, with the recommendations on physical distancing in place. If the solitude feels overwhelming or problems keep piling up, the site also lists essential phone and chat services and crisis helplines that can provide mental support. It also indicates locations where food aid is available.
We can all help and support each other: we can call and ask how our loved ones are doing or ask if our neighbours need help when seeing them in the stairway. Support and aid can also be provided through a variety of organisations and civil society actors. The hel.fi/joulu2020 website includes links to the most prominent Christmas fundraisers and the NappiNaapuri Christmas campaign, which encourages neighbours to show their appreciation for each other through small actions that demonstrate the holiday spirit.
The Art Gift concept was introduced during last summer’s Helsinki Festival, which provided local residents with the opportunity to surprise others with gifts of art. The seasonal Art Gifts will be delivered to individual home care clients and clients of Settlementtiasunnot, and to yards of senior centres and care homes. In addition to this, care workers who are on duty at Christmas will be receiving a virtual musical greeting and demonstration of thanks. The Art Gift campaign for the holiday season is provided in cooperation by the City of Helsinki, Helsinki parishes and MIELI Mental Health Finland. The season and the effective coronavirus restrictions impose a range of challenges on the distribution of Art Gifts during the 2020 holiday period. The gifts will be provided outdoors in accordance with official guidelines and safe distances.
“During this holiday season, we cannot gather together and wind down in the ways we are used to. Still, we can all seek to ensure that Christmas remains a time of giving and showing our appreciation to others, regardless of convictions or opinions. This is exactly the year for all of us to consider who we can cheer up or help. Could I do the shopping for a neighbour, surprise someone with a Christmas flower, donate to a charity or call a relative? Together with the church and the organisations involved, we want to communicate that Christmas is still a time of sharing and togetherness, despite the extraordinary circumstances,” says Executive Director of the Culture and Leisure Division Tommi Laitio, who was responsible for organising the cooperation.
and cheer for the holiday season