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Arts and culture companions

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Project secretary Jaana Laalo in Japanese-Finnish seminar 10.09.13

Project secretary Jaana Laalo in Japanese-Finnish seminar 10.09.13

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  • 1. ARTS and CULTURE COMPANIONS – volunteers assisting older people to enjoy cultural events together with them Jaana Laalo Project secretary City of Lahti, Cultural Center Lahti Sept. 10, 2013
  • 2. • The Cultural center of the city of Lahti started this one-year project in the fall of 2011. I was resposible for organizing it. • Our target was to create a new service for the older people who lived alone and no longer felt comfortable leaving alone from their homes. At the same time they were still in such good physical condition that they were able to leave and enjoy the cultural event of their choice when assisted by the Arts and Culture companion (later called ACC). The main aim was to create a positive experience for both parties. • The basic idea for this project was copied from the city of Jyväskylä where this type of activity was started several years ago. Since Lahti is the city of modern Finnish design, we also designed our own concept for the Arts and Culture Companion service.
  • 3. • Our partners in this process were two local voluntary work organizations Lahden Lähimmäispalvelu and Marian Kammari together with four local cultural organizations Lahti Symphony Orghestra, Lahti City Theatre, Main Library and Lahti City Museum. • In our ACC-service concept the tasks and responsibilities were devided as follows: – The two voluntary work organizations found the experienced volunteers who were intrested in arts and culture in general and willing to participate the special program that was put together by the Cultural center. These organizations were to be contacted by the customers in order to find a suitable ACC for their needs.
  • 4. – The main responsibilities of the Cultural center were to organize the special program for the ACCs together with the four local cultural organizations, plan and execute various marketing measures and media coverage. We were also the main point of sending, receiving and forwarding information between different parties. – Lahti Symphony Orghestra, Lahti City Theatre, Main Library and Lahti City Museum organized an information evening each for th ACCs. We walked through their premises, checked lifts and toilet facilities, seating arrangements for people with special needs, etc. Of course the repertoires of the season were introduced and the ACCs were able to ask questions related to them. All services of the Main Library are free. The three remining organizations offered special ticket prices and other special conditions to the ACCs.
  • 5. – The tasks of the ACCs were also agreed. They took contact with the customer (old person) who had ordered the service or for whom the service had been ordered. They agreed all the details related to the event based on the needs of the customer (ordering tickets, informing of different cultural events to choose from, timetable, etc). During the cultural event that was agreed upon, all assistance required was provided by the ACCs. They were also to pick up the customer from her home and bring her back after the event. – Customers themselves, their family members, service provider, etc. were to contact the voluntary work organization to order the ACC-service. The customer was to cover the following costs: transportation from her home to the venue and back, tickets both for her and the ACC. Refreshments were to be covered individually. It needs to be underlined that the assistance and time of the ACC as such was free of charge.
  • 6. • There was some controversy related to the fact that the service offered by the ACCs wasn’t totally free to the customers. Unfortunately it wasn’t sustainable to introduce such a service in Lahti. • I want to point out that the ACCs were also kept informed about cultural events where admission was free. So the money wasn’t an issue – it was taking the initiative! • The concept for the ACC-service was designed and it was time to put it into action. After the special program all new ACCs were motivated and ready to start working. Hundreds of information letters were distributed to older people direct, to organizations that provide other services to the target group we had defined when planning the ACC-concept, etc. Local newspapers and radio channels covered this subject.
  • 7. We hoped that the ACC-information would be spread through the grape wine: good experiences would create more intrest. • What were the results of the project and the status of the ACC-service? During the year 2012 the ACCs were ordered 50 times and the cultural life of about 80 old people was reactivated at least once. The ACC-service concept in there and working: voluntary work organizations offer this service. The four cultural organizations have their special offers to the ACCs still in place. The Cultural center informs the ACCs twice a year about the current cultural events in Lahti. But • More resourses = manpower would be needed to activate these older people who live alone and would need assistance in leaving their homes in order to do something enjoyable.
  • 8. For these people need motivating, encouragement and empowerment in order to take the iniative in using this type of services. • I believe that through persistant work we’ll get long lasting results. However, any new ideas how to activate our target group would be highly appreciated! Thank you.

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