The English page of the City of Helsinki’s latest quarterly publication focuses on municipal responses to covid-19, showcasing several new services and forms of support that were introduced since the outbreak’s onset.
Even before the Finnish government announced its state of emergency, the City of Helsinki was quickly mobilising to adapt its activities and services. Several new channels to reach out to people and businesses were founded, and regular Mayor’s Info sessions provided important updates.
An interview with InfoFinland’s communications specialist Liudmila Helanterä shows an example of the rapid personnel changes made at the city. She was recruited to be a part of a new crisis communications team charged with sharing vital information with Helsinki’s international community. The team started translating the city’s Finnish-language communications and recommendations into Swedish, English and Russian on a daily basis.
The city’s communications efforts soon expanded to other languages spoken widely in Helsinki, as information videos and health, hygiene and safety guidelines were also made available in Arabic, Dari, French, Kurdish (Sorani), Somali, and Turkish.
Helanterä did this work in addition to her regular work for InfoFinland, a website administered by the City of Helsinki that explains how things work in Finland. In response to the coronavirus crisis, for example, InfoFinland compiled links to coronavirus-related information from each of Finland’s major authorities.
The May Helsinki-lehti issue also shines a light on NewCo Helsinki, a city-run business advisory service that is offering free business consultation and advice to companies that have seen profits dry up because of the crisis. The service informs business owners about the many forms of payment relief and financial support that have been made available to struggling firms.
To finish, the English page points out some of the key telephone hotlines the city has introduced to answer questions about the virus, school arrangements and services for self-isolating seniors. Municipal services for families have likewise been expanded to help with challenges that may have surfaced during stay-at-home measures.
The City of Helsinki wants its residents to know that they are not alone, that help is available. In the words of Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori: “By sticking together and caring, we will get through this coronavirus.”
The Helsinki-lehti publication is delivered to every Helsinki home four times a year.
The Helsinki-lehti (pdf)
Photo: Antti Helanterä