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The Valuable Role of Active NGOs - Supporting Espoo Residents in the Fight Against Coronavirus

Edited on

13 May 2020
Read time: 3 minutes

As the world faces an extraordinary challenge in the coronavirus pandemic, it is crucial to design and implement co-creative solutions to support citizens.  In Espoo, one of the most important initiatives undertaken is the cooperation between Active NGOs and the municipality towards supporting Espoo residents. 

City of Espoo meeting

NGOs and City of Espoo actively implement novel initiatives such as a helpline in different languages, bag-of-groceries service to help senior citizens and food assistance for the vulnerable during the difficult time. “We need a good spirit of cooperation and compassion to survive this exceptional situation and to ensure no one is left without care,” says Jukka Mäkelä, the Mayor at the City of Espoo.


“No one is left without care” 

During these uncertain times, at the forefront of all Active NGOs activities is a commitment to safeguard the health and safety of Espoo residents. Therefore, a resident-oriented approach is considered imperative for effective co-operation between NGOs and  the municipality with its partners. The City of Espoo has adopted strict measures against the prevention and spreading of coronavirus, as recommended by the Government. Regularly updated information, along with instructions and the effects on the city’s operations is available on this website: .   All possible measures are being taken to ensure safe living and working conditions for residents.

URBACT Local Group meeting was held digitally in Espoo to share news and discuss new services during the pandemic. The digital transition has started with the myriad of online tools, to continue the operation and services online. It is valuable for NGOs in Espoo to learn more about how to support residents and encourage such initiatives.

Espoo ULG meeting

Picture 1. URBACT Local meeting March 2020
(Source of picture: City of Espoo.  Video of ULG meeting at City of Espoo’s YouTube channel )

Bag-of-groceries Service to help senior citizens

To protect elderly people from contracting coronavirus, the Finnish Government has strongly recommended that persons over 70 years of age must avoid contact with other persons and avoid public places. Therefore, some elderly people are unable to go to the grocery store or buy groceries online. It raises a fundamental question for the City of Espoo and the NGOs.

EJY Ry and City of Espoo have a long history of co-operation in various projects. EJY Ry is an NGO that provides welfare, social and health activities for the person in need in the difficult stages and conditions of life. EJY joined forces with Nestori – Guidance and Service Counselling for Senior Citizens to provide support during the pandemic. Through the helpline, Nestori  provides advice and instructions and also sends all requests for grocery deliveries to EJY’s Bag-of-groceries service. EJY arranges reliable volunteers to bring groceries from the shop to the senior citizen’s home.

Around 100 volunteers at EJY are helping to deliver food to those elderly Espoo residents. “After about one month of implementation, 63 people have asked for help and we have been able to help 57 of them. Some cancellations have happened, mostly because the people have received help from someone else. We are focused on the need of the hour, the support that is required during this difficult time. Usually our volunteers come and help older people with going out or small things indoors, but now, we have put all our energy into helping people with their basic necessities ” says Kaisa Kauhanen, Coordinator of EJY.

Espoo elderly residents

Picture 2. EJY Ry and Nestori collaborate  to help senior citizens in City of Espoo
 (Source of picture: City of Espoo. More information at City of Espoo website)

Food assistance in collaboration between City of Espoo and NGOs  

Manna-Apu Ry, an NGO with a significant history of food assistance has joined forces with City of Espoo and various organisations to launch a food-assistance project. Members of Manna-Apu Ry, employees of City of Espoo from libraries, early childhood education and social services pack and distribute food bags for people with low-income and people who belong to risk-groups.

“Thanks to the existing cooperation structures, we were able to quickly launch a food assistance project that meets the residents’ needs in this critical situation,” says Tapio Nieminen, Manager of Adult Social Services at the City of Espoo.

Food assistance in collaboration between city of Espoo and Manna-Apu Ry

Picture 3. Food assistance in collaboration between city of Espoo and Manna-Apu Ry  
 (Source of picture: Manna-Apu Ry.  More information at City of Espoo website)

The multi-lingual helpline is a joint service by City of Espoo’s employees and volunteers of NGOs 

To prevent the spread of coronavirus, it is of utmost importance that residents have access to reliable information. A helpline in different languages was initiated to guide foreign-language speakers with questions about the Covid-19 pandemic. Espoo is home to around 150 nationalities, and the helpline itself is operated as a joint service by City of Espoo’s employees and volunteers of Active NGOs, such as - Nicehearts ry, Trapesa, Kylämaja, Esma ry, Suomi Syyria Ystävyysseura, MPNY ry, Nuorten polku ry, Irakin naisten yhdistys. 

After the first four weeks of implementation, more than 340 calls have been attended to. “It is a good number for the beginning. Nevertheless, there is a challenge to reach each of the large number of people who need this assistance, because we have many residents who do not speak Finnish. We will reach everyone through the helpline” says Ihab Al-Qaddoori, customer guide of the helpline.

Espoo helpline

Picture 4. The multi-lingual helpline of City of Espoo and NGOs 
 (Source of picture: City of Espoo.  More information at City of Espoo website)

With due regard to the coronavirus situation bringing with it many changes to the life of Espoo residents, Active NGOs play a crucial role in the provision of public services openly and fairly with equality, humanity and tolerance. Now more than ever, it is important to be aware of the significance of cooperation in Espoo, Europe and all over the world.