This Christmas, young people’s families will need special support – youth shelters will provide help both online and in person

Joonas Brandt
Image: Joonas Brandt

The coronavirus pandemic has widened the well-being gap amongst young people and families. While some people enjoy spending more time together, others experience conflicts. As the pandemic continues over the holidays, it is important for families to receive support quickly and effortlessly. The Red Cross youth shelters will be on call throughout Christmas, and help will be available both online and face-to-face.

A coronavirus Christmas increases problems in families

More focus is currently on family relationships and any problems they may involve, because we have been spending so much time together due to the coronavirus restrictions. In 2020, 40 per cent of young people living with their parents have spent more time with them than before, a study bythe Finnish Youth Research Network shows. Spending time together has brought joy to some young people and their loved ones, but for others it has meant an escalation in conflicts.

– ‘Financial and work-related concerns in families, as well as disagreements between parents, have become more visible to young people due to the increased time spent at home. The uncertainty of their families’ future is causing young people to feel unsafe. Furthermore, the fact that young people are unable to distance themselves from worries at home through hobbies and friends as normal makes their situation more problematic,’ says family and couples psychotherapist Kati Kyyrö, who is developing digital family work at youth shelters. 

Christmas and New Year involve a lot of shared experiences that can be positive and highly anticipated, but also painful.

– ‘At youth shelters, we have noticed that unmet expectations result in negative feelings, but often not until it is time to return back to normal life. People put on a brave face during the holidays, and many want to uphold traditions successfully,’ says Kyyrö, who has been doing family work at the shelters for over a decade.

Shelters will be on call during Christmas

– ‘It is clear that as the pandemic continues the mental resources of families are deteriorating. It is important that the support needs of young people and their families are met on a low threshold, even at Christmas,’ says Kyyrö.

The youth shelters, located in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Tampere and Turku, will be on call 24/7 over Christmas. Temporary accommodation for young people will remain open and provide a safe place to stay for the night for young people who do not have any coronavirus symptoms. In addition to this, the shelters will provide discussion support online. Support can be accessed by individuals either alone or together with loved ones.

– ‘We support young people via the Sekasin chat and their families and loved ones on our new Suhteellista platform, for which you can book a video appointment on the website. And if you would prefer to receive anonymous support with problems at home, you can use the Suhteellista chat to start a conversation. However, in urgent situations you should contact an on-call shelter directly to agree on a suitable way to meet up,’ says Kyyrö, encouraging people to seek help early.

The Helsinki Metropolitan Area’s youth shelters have developed a joint Christmas on-call system for the youth shelter in Espoo (tel. 09 8195 5360). The Christmas on-call services at the youth shelters will begin on Wednesday 23 December at 5 pm and end on Sunday 27 December at 10 am. After that, all of the youth shelters in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area will return to their normal opening hours.

The youth shelter in Tampere (tel. 040 556 6661) will remain open from 3 pm on Thursday 24 December to 10 am on Saturday 26 December.

The youth shelter in Turku (tel. 02 253 9667) will be on call 24/7 throughout Christmas.

The youth shelters’ contact details

The anonymous Suhteellistachat (link in Finnish) will be open for longer hours after Christmas and before New Year, from Monday to Wednesday 3–8 pm. A video call can be booked at:

The youth shelters provide discussion support to young people every day of the year through the Sekasin chat (link in Finnish).The chat is available during the week from 9 am to midnight and on the weekends from 3 pm to midnight.