One autumn day in 1997, Arto Nyberg, then reporter at the morning TV-show Aamu-tv, sat at home and was thinking about how privileged he was. Those thoughts were the starting point to what came to be the Christmas Spirit campaign Hyvä Joulumieli.
One could call Arto Nyberg father of the Hyvä Joulumieli campaign. In 1997 he worked as a reporter for the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle’s morning show Aamu-tv. One day, Nyberg realized, how very privileged he is, and started to contemplate a Christmas calendar for the morning TV-show, that would help families with children living in Finland, who are disadvantaged.
Strong collaboration equals a strong campaign
Nyberg pitched his idea to the Finnish Red Cross, and proposed collaboration. The idea of a Christmas calendar soon evolved to a national Christmas campaign. Because the idea was to help families with children, the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare was asked to become a partner in the campaign.
Arto Nyberg’s boss, Kari Karjalainen, thought the idea was good and he started to further the campaign. As a part of the campaign, a ball was organized and its profits were directed to the campaign. The ball was a part of the campaign for 10 years.
Both the Finnish Red Cross and the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare (MLL) started planning the new campaign with enthusiasm. During the fall of 1997 the campaign goal was established: the campaign was to be launched well before Christmas and the goal was to collect enough money to give out gift vouchers of FIM 300 to 2000 families with children which have economic difficulties.
The Finnish Red Cross and the Mannerheimn League for Child Welfare were to organize the campaign and choose the families. The gift vouchers were to be used in Kesko’s grocery stores and Yle’s morning show Aamu-tv would provide visibility for the campaign.
Baby steps forward
The first year the campaign raised almost FIM 300 000. The result was not as good as the organizers had hoped, and the Finnish Red Cross contributed with FIM 2000, so that the goal would be met. The next year, the campaign succeeded well, and the organizers could give out 200 gift vouchers more than the year before. The result almost doubled the following year. The campaign has grown steadily since. In 2016 the campaign raised 2,1 million Euros and helped 30 000 families. During the years the campaign has helped 230 500 families.
– The collaboration between the organizations and Yle has worked very well despite people have come and gone, says Milla Kalliomaa, Secretary General at the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare. The cause brings people together and everybody wants to be a part of the campaign.
All original partners are still involved, and in addition the vouchers can now even be used in all S-group and Lidl grocery stores. Yle still provides visibility to the campaign and continues to be a very valuable partner.
Poverty affects one in ten children in Finland
Even though the reasons behind child poverty in Finland have changed over the last 20 years, many families still have it bad. In the early years of the campaign, the vouchers were often given to families that were carrying too much debt or suffred from long term unemployment. Today even families with both parents working need help. Many parents have very low incomes, part time or temporary jobs.
Single parents are still amongt the worst off, but poverty affects increasingly families with two parents that have either small children or those with three or more children. The value of different forms of economic assistance has decreased, which particularly affects poor families with children. For example, the child benefit given to families regardless of income, has decreased by one third since 1997.
Text: Mirva Krause
Kuva: YLE:n arkisto