“We go where young people are.”
• The Walkers Bus is a form of rapid response youth work in the Finnish capital region. Its goal is to address concerns related to young people in certain areas in cooperation with local actors.
• The activity relies heavily on the low-threshold principle and non-stigmatisation. It is aimed at 13 to 17-year-olds. In particular, the goal is to reach young people who are not reached by local services.
• The work addresses the risk behaviour of young people and improves the safety of the area. Young people meet professional youth and social workers and receive support and guidance in life. They are also provided information about local services.
• The activity improves the participation of young people and conveys their opinion to local employees and officials. The views of young people are observed in casual conversations and through various surveys. A safety walk is also arranged in each area where the Bus operates.
• The Walkers Bus goes where young people are. Its advantage is its mobility – the Bus can be moved from place to place as needed. It is also used as a base from which youth workers are able to move among young people on foot
People can hang out at the Bus by themselves or arrive with friends. The Bus is equipped with laptops, an Internet connection and educational games.
• The Bus’s advantage is its neutrality. It is not seen as “someone’s territory”.
The Bus functions as a youth café in the area 3-4 times per week for 2–4 months. The Bus is manned by local actors, trained Walkers volunteers and the youth workers of Aseman Lapset. In addition to providing safe adults to talk to, the Bus provides affordable coffee shop services without the obligation to buy anything.
Bus schedules are planned to fit the needs of the area. The services provided by the Bus can also be fitted to local needs. When needed, other services can be acquired for both young people and local partners.
Before its arrival, young people will get the chance to get acquainted with the Bus during its school visits. As the Bus enters the area, people will be informed about its whereabouts through social media, youth workers and by word of mouth.
The needs of the area define the activities of the Bus. They may arise, for example, from concerns expressed by locals working with young people. The activities are divided into three phases. The Bus usually works in one area for four to six months.
The work begins with a 1–2 month long networking phase in cooperation with the locals.
In the operative phase the Bus circles around the area for 2–4 months as a youth café open to everyone.
The activities are ended with a 1–2 month long reinforcement phase. The reinforcement phase helps the locals adopt practices they felt were important into their own routines.
The commitment and participation of local partners is a prerequisite for the arrival of the Bus. If necessary, new partners can be sought in the area for work involving immigrants, street violence or substance abuse cases. The goal of the cooperation is to reach out to young people and find out their needs more efficiently.
Safety walks for young people will be arranged in the area where the Bus operates. The walks are used to observe residential areas from the perspective of young people. During these walks, information is collected about places where young people feel safe and unsafe. One of the most important tasks of the Bus is to increase awareness among locals and local officials of what goes on in the streets of their area.
Petteri Pietinen, tel. +358 50 336 2254
Nina Liuko, tel. +358 40 570 7617
Nina Valkonen, tel. +358 50 308 1888
firstname.lastname [at] asemanlapset.fi
ASEMAN LAPSET RY
Simonkatu 3 A, 00100 Helsinki
Tel. +358 9 654 740
info [at] asemanlapset.fi