Niittykoti from the outside

Moving into the Housing Unit Niittykoti for a Month of Volunteer Work

I have been doing volunteer work for Sininauhasäätiö since October. I've had the chance to get to know the organization better and visit its different units. This summer I was given an exciting offer: I would be moving into the housing unit of Niittykoti in Turku to do volunteer work and get to know the customers.

When I arrived in Finland last October, I was excited about getting to know Sininauhasäätiö better. I wanted to learn about its day centers, its house units, its workers, its customers… In Helsinki I had the opportunity to visit most of the facilities and also to give small help in all of them.

I was also given the opportunity to help other units outside of Helsinki. In April I started to visit Vuorelanmäki in Kerava. There we have been doing many interesting activities, like cooking, gardening and cleaning. I like to keep an open mind and try different activities.

Some months ago, I was told that the housing unit called Niittykoti in Turku was also interesting in having me visit and work with them for a month. I will be living with the customers in Niittykoti. I knew that there was a recent housing unit in Turku, that had been opened in February 2020, but I actually didn’t except that I could visit, since my working place is in Helsinki.

Learning about homelessness in Finland

When I arrived in Helsinki, I had many doubts about the situation of the homeless people in Finland. Would it be the same as in my country? Perhaps the way of working, the structure of the organisation, the problems faced by homeless people, the help they receive and how they receive it would be different.

After these months, I have been able to resolve many of the doubts that I had in the beginning. However I’m only familiar with the situation in the capital. And as often happens, the capital is not representative of what happens in the rest of the country. Having the opportunity to know how it works in a smaller city, less touristy (at least internationally) and more personal is certainly a unique experience.

New experiences and opportunities

There are many things to be happy and excited about: new city, new place, new people. Many people have told me that Turku is a very beautiful city. Some months ago I had the chance to visit, but the weather was very bad, so I was not happy with it… So I’m excited to pay another visit to the city!

I am also very excited to meet the workers and the customers. I felt very welcomed during the initial meetings, and I’ve had the opportunity to contact some of the workers. They have always made me feel really welcomed.

I am very curious about the customers, about how they will react to having an international volunteer around with who they can do different activities: picnics, sports, walks, museums, music etc. Imagination is the limit.

I would like to thank Niittykoti for this opportunity, and I am sure I will not regret my time in Turku. I am sure it will be fun, for me and for everyone. It’s a chance to learn together and also enjoy getting to know new people. At least that is what I’m looking forward to the most.

Volunteer at Sininauhasäätiö
Betty Pineiro