The Good Holiday Spirit campaign has again been launched to help low income families in Finland. Grocery gift cards will bring joy to families in financial difficulties. The coronavirus crisis has increased the number of these families this year. The campaign starts on 19 November and donations can be made until Christmas Eve.
The Good Holiday Spirit campaign is particularly important this year, as many families’ finances have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The crisis has led to redundancies and layoffs, which have immediately reduced families’ incomes. In addition to wage earners, business owners with families are also experiencing mounting financial difficulties.
“The fact that the coronavirus crisis has hit those the hardest who were already struggling has compounded the situation. In many families, problems have escalated,” says Milla Kalliomaa, Secretary General of the Mannerheim League of Child Welfare.
One concrete sign of families’ economic hardship is their increasing use of food banks. Food banks were under particular pressure during school closures and school holidays. This has been the first time many have had to rely on food assistance.
“Prolonged layoffs and the shortage of summer jobs for young students are also reflected in the queues for food banks. Many families live hand-to-mouth, so any unexpected expense causes distress. Self-isolation during the pandemic has also increased loneliness. When low income and loneliness combine, it is also essential to offer company and social interaction in addition to material aid,” says Kristiina Kumpula, Secretary General of the Finnish Red Cross.
112,000 children in Finland live in poverty
Even before the coronavirus crisis, poverty was a reality for more than every tenth child in Finland. This means that some 112,000 children and adolescents in Finland live in low-income families. Low income is statistically more common in single-parent families and families with several children.
For a child or a young person, poverty means having to give up hobbies, a sense of exclusion, limited career opportunities and often bullying. The reduced financial resources of a family often place restrictions on the children’s social opportunities and shape the children’s identity from a young age. Because poverty in the childhood home increases the risk on a person’s health and capacity to study and work later in life, childhood poverty has far-reaching consequences.
The Good Holiday Spirit campaign starts again
This year is the 24th time the Good Holiday Spirit campaign is offering help to low-income families in Finland. The goal is to raise over €1 million and to give away 21,000 grocery gift cards worth €50 each to families in need. The campaign starts on 19 November and continues until Christmas Eve.
This year’s opening ceremonies could not be organised due to the coronavirus pandemic, but instead the campaign can be seen and heard on YLE channels more loudly and clearly than before. The Puoli seitsemän show on YLE TV1 and Radio Suomi give daily updates of the Good Holiday Spirit campaign.
There are many ways to donate:
- Via the campaign website: www.hyvajoulumieli.fi/
- By sending a text message: send ‘HJM’ to 16499 to donate €10, ‘HJM20’ donate €20 and ‘HJM30’ to donate €30.
- By calling 0600 1 6555 (€10.01/call + local network charge)
- By bank transfer to the Good Holiday Spirit campaign account: IBAN FI33 5780 4120 0801 60, please quote reference number 5429.
Arja-Liisa Mauno, organisational manager, arja-liisa.mauno(a)mll.fi, tel. +358 (0)40 584 5176
Maaret Alaranta, social welfare coordinator, maaret.alaranta(a)redcross.fi, tel. +358 (0)40 358 3257
Maria Gnosspelius, communications manager, maria.gnosspelius(a)mll.fi, tel. +358 (0)50 325 6126