The One of Us Project
The One of Us Project
The One of Us project is a project coordinated by Y-Foundation that addresses issues related to loneliness and inequality. The three-year project (2020–2022) is active in Lahti and East Helsinki. In East Helsinki, particular attention is paid to men. The project is funded by the Funding Centre for Social Welfare and Health Organisations STEA.
Loneliness is a societal issue
The majority of people in Finland experience their quality of life to be good. Finland is ranked high in international comparisons of happiness and satisfaction with life. However, country-specific comparisons do not always reveal the differences in health and well-being experienced by different population groups of Finland. One of these differences is related to the loneliness experienced by people.
It is important to recognise loneliness as a societal issue instead of individual tragedies. By adopting this mindset, different parties in society are allowed and obligated to combat loneliness actively.
Loneliness is not a human trait. Instead, it is an aspect of the individual’s relationship with other parts of society.
Different types of loneliness
On the one hand, loneliness can be something that a person chooses to follow. It can be social distancing or having a low number of interpersonal relationships. On the other hand, loneliness can also be an involuntary state. Although practically anyone can feel lonely, loneliness is strongly associated with being disadvantaged to an increasing extent.
The exclusion of people who experience loneliness from social networks and communities often leads to increasing inequality gaps. People who experience loneliness do not have access to information spread in social networks either. People who experience loneliness are less likely to participate in public and shared activities and it might be very difficult for them to get to know other people.
The Covid19 pandemic has increased loneliness, as various establishments have been closed and interaction between people has been limited. This has also brought new challenges to this project. We have found that there is a stigma attached to speaking out about loneliness and that it is difficult to do so. The project has created a questionnaire to help with this, to help people talk about loneliness.
New working and operating models from the development network
Talking about loneliness is important because loneliness has been shown to cause serious health issues, which can be seen in the extensive use of health care services and impaired work ability. A lot of people who experience loneliness also suffer from depression and even self-destructive thoughts.
Various parties in the social welfare and health care sector have an important role in reducing loneliness and bringing people together for various hobbies, spending time together and peer support. The One of Us project includes several partners that offer people various activities and opportunities for involvement.
The purpose of the development network is to come up with new working and operating models for encountering people who experience loneliness.
Y-Foundation wants to address loneliness and inequality
Through the provision of various common areas, resident activities and shared living environment maintenance services, rental apartment agencies can contact their residents and reduce loneliness.
Loneliness can be reduced by structural solutions in interior design or planning shared activities. From the perspective of a lessor, reducing loneliness may be linked to establishing a group identity in certain properties, buildings or more extensive neighbourhoods through various shared activities.
Reducing loneliness can also be viewed from a cost perspective. The well-being of tenants is linked to subsistence and supporting well-being can be seen as a humane activity that also creates cost savings.
Goals of the project
- To relieve the loneliness experienced by people living in Y-Foundation’s rental apartments.
- During the project, 500 residents of the foundation’s rental apartments are contacted.
- The aim is for half of those contacted to find an active community in which they participate at least three times, a group of friends or a friend.
- We hope that the people involved will experience empowerment in their networks and resources and an increased sense of purpose in their lives.
- Our goal is to make the people involved in the project feel less lonely and, instead, feel that they are one of us.
Project workers meet people experiencing loneliness and plan meaningful activities with them, introduce them to different activities and hobbies and help them get involved. People have been referred to the project through a postcard campaign organised by the project, a network of partners and other social and health actors.
Senior Planning Officer Maria Degerman, tel. +358 (0)20 702 0264
Project Associate (Helsinki) Ina Laine-Salaja, tel. +358 (0)20 702 0382
Project Associate (Lahti) Sanna Tasanko, tel. +358 (0)20 702 0277