Kuopio Settlement Puijola was established in 1995. Initially, the founders aimed to engage in elderly care, but the venture did not receive funding. Puijola truly began two years later with funding for the establishment of the meeting place Kotikulma.
Kotikulma worked in the Petonen district with funding from RAY (Finnish Slot Machine Association) for over ten years, operating as Kuopio city’s resident house in its final years. At its peak, resident houses were also in Nilsiä and Karttula. Puijola employed hundreds of long-term unemployed individuals in these resident houses. The operation ended when the coordination of resident house activities was entirely transferred to the city.
The roots of the support center Mahku, founded in 2009, are in Kotikulma, where work was already being done with individuals released from prison. Today, Mahku supports individuals with a criminal background and their relatives.
Over the years, Puijola expanded into multicultural work, an area initially of little interest to other actors. The international meeting place Kompassi was established in 1999. The Kimppa project employed individuals with immigrant backgrounds. The activities continued to develop, and in 2008, the “Yhteistyössä Työelämään” project began, focusing on finding jobs for job seekers with immigrant backgrounds. This was the start of the currently active Validi project.
The popular “Welcome to Finland” courses at Kompassi originated from a national project operating in 2012 and 2013.
Puijola now also includes the Girls’ House, a place for young people aged 12-29, where everyone has the opportunity to be seen and heard. The Aggredi work, focusing on 18-49-year-olds involved in domestic violence, started at Settlement Puijola in spring 2015.
The roots of Kuopio Housing Counseling date back to 2015, with the large influx of asylum seekers, to ensure sufficient counseling for them. In 2023, housing counseling was legislated and funded for five years.
Children’s after-school clubs have been operating for a long time and currently run in five different schools.
JuJu Dance is a new social dance activity of Settlement Puijola in Kuopio, established in 2021. JuJu Dance’s core idea is that dance and art belong to everyone. Its popularity has grown rapidly.
Puijola’s largest service unit is the Reception Center. Currently, the Kuopio and Iisalmi reception centers have nearly 2,500 clients, employing about 50 staff members.
The Kuopio Reception Center managed by Puijola started in April 2022 due to the Ukrainian war and expanded to Iisalmi in November of the same year. Puijola also responded to the Finnish Immigration Service’s request in 2015-2020 by managing the Tarina Reception Center and the Levänen emergency accommodation unit in 2015.
As of 2023, Puijola has over 100 employees and continues to grow.