Helsinki Helpline errand service to wind down in July

The Helsinki Helpline campaign will continue to supply at-home seniors with food, medicine and other services for the month of June, and the associated hotline will stay open for calls until the end of August. The Finnish government decided to ease mobility restrictions on residents over the age of 70 in May, and the need for home deliveries has clearly decreased as a result.

Helsinki Helpline, a campaign to supply the city’s elderly population with food and medicine during the coronavirus outbreak, will see changes this summer as need for the service dissipates. Over the last two months or so, the service has fielded and instigated over 57,000 calls to Helsinki residents, successfully reaching out to some 27,000 people over the age of 70 and 15,500 individuals over the age of 80. During the peak of the covid-19 crisis, Helsinki Helpline workers answered more than 500 calls a day.

Since the start of June, however, the number of incoming calls each day has dropped to a few dozen. In May, the service expanded its scope from the 80+ population to try to contact everyone over the age 75 to ask if they needed assistance. Only three percent of this new subset said they needed help with errands or someone to talk to.

“The city is opening up again and summer is here. Older people are also understandably becoming more active and going out, after a long wait. The coronavirus situation is nevertheless not over and seniors are still a risk group. Even if our errand-running to shops and pharmacies will end in June, the Helsinki Helpline phone service will remain open through the summer so everyone can get the help they need. We are also prepared to re-expand our services, if the pandemic makes it necessary,” says Tomi Lempiäinen, the campaign’s project manager.

Helsinki Helpline is available at tel. 09 310 10020 on weekdays between 9 am and 4 pm until August 31. Starting in July, customers that have being using the service will be directed to other services, such as the City of Helsinki’s Senior Info and the city’s many parishes. Many commercial retailers also provide home delivery services. In addition, all seniors that need the Helsinki Helpline service and actively used it in the spring will be individually contacted this summer to inform them of the changes to the campaign and refer them to similar services.

“Helsinki Helpline will guide people to the help they need through the summer. In this way, volunteers and employees of Helsinki’s parishes will continue to provide support and assistance to our city’s residents. We have encountered rapid changes, but we are committed to answering every call for help, through every stage of this crisis. Psychological and spiritual support is also on offer through the summer at Helsinki parishes and via the church’s nationwide phone and chat service,” says Juha Rintamäki, director of the Parish Union of Helsinki.

Helsinki’s Senior Info continues as normal

The City of Helsinki’s Senior Info service continues its work providing the city’s over-65 population and their families with information and guidance about the city and its services, as well as other senior organisations and assistance.

“People are encouraged to contact Senior Info about anything that is on their mind, no matter how small. If something worries you or you need help in your day-to-day life, please don’t hesitate to call,” says Minna Nummi, the service’s director.

Those that may be concerned about the welfare of a Helsinki resident over the age of 65 can also call Senior Info at tel. 09 3104 4556 or go to hel.fi/seniorit to report their concern. Starting on 22 June, the Senior Info service will be available on weekdays between 9 am and 3 pm.

Coming together to provide important assistance

The City of Helsinki teamed up with Helsinki’s parishes in mid-March to launch the Helsinki Helpline in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The Finnish Red Cross and the charity Helsinki Missio also took part, along with numerous volunteer organisations and corporate sponsors. Food retailer HOK-Elanto and pharmacies from Yliopiston Apteekki and the Finnish Pharmacy Association were key suppliers of food and medicine, and the Genesys company provided call centre equipment. The national postal service Posti and logistics manufacturer Logisnext Finland assisted with delivery and logistics, as did the companies of Helkama-Auto, ŠKODA, Stara and Dometic Finland. The service also used Helsinki Region Transport city bikes. The cyber security firm F-Secure also signed on to help with deliveries.

Photo: Paula Virta