What is Puijola?

Settlement Puijola is an organization working in Kuopio and Siilinjärvi and Puijola has about 90 employees. We do our job with humor, with skill and with our full heart so that every day would be a fair and happy one for all of us.
Puijola was founded in the year 1995 in Kuopio. Our work has, from the beginning, relied upon the Settlement values. This means that our goal is to promote equality, diversity and social justice. We respect individuals. Our work is collaborative, working together.

Our work is politically and religiously neutral. We also do not seek financial gain. Our doors are open to everyone. We provide equal opportunities regardless of race, sex and culture. We do not preach and we do not ask from our participants to think in the same way. Our employees, customers and volunteers represent different faiths and cultures. We want to promote equality through our work in a multicultural Finland.

Although we support the underprivileged and those in difficult life situations, we do not provide solutions on behalf of others. We believe that each person is the best expert of his/her own life. The foundation stone of the Settlement work is the will to secure the rights of a good life for the people from different backgrounds and different age groups in all of their life situations. This is best done by encouraging each person to find resources within themselves to act and find solutions.

The Settlement work started in London

Puijola is a part of Finnish Settlement movement which, in turn, is a part of the International Federation of Settlements (IFS). The word Settlement is a direct quote from the English word settlement. It means a settlement, to settle in, adapting and adjusting.
International Settlement movement dates back to the end of 1800s, and to the poorest quarters of East London, where the city university students began to work with people who are struggling in life and riddled with social problems. In these quarters the students set up civic centers which offered training and support among other things.
The settlement movement extended to Finland for the first time in the 1890s when, teacher, journalist and civil activist Alli Trygg- Helenius founded People’s Home in Helsinki’s Kallio region. Another pioneer was priest Sigfrid Sirenius, who got his spark for settlement work while he was working in London as a priest to the sailors in the 1900s.
The Settlement got permanently planted in our country after the civil war in 1918. At that time, it was established as Evangelical society in the industrial areas, and was later named as the Finnish Federation of Settlements.
The first house which was modelled after the London houses was Kalliola. It was founded in 1919 in Helsinki’s Kallio region. In subsequent years, more work stations, i.e., settlements were established in Vyborg, Tampere, Finland, Kemi and Rovaniemi. The target groups were youth, kindergartens and discussion groups and events aimed at uniting different civic groups.

Settlement work – building bridges

The Settlement work in its entire 100-year history was based on building bridges between the different factions. Our everyday work is meeting people at the grassroots level, learning as much as teaching, giving as much as receiving.

Finnish Settlement movement include the Federation of Settlements and its 44 local, independently functioning association members, which have operations in 50 different locations. Settlement has a total of about 500 employees. In addition, a large number of volunteers from different ages and different backgrounds are involved in the settlement work.

Range of our activities is very wide: it reaches from child, youth and elderly work to educational, cultural and multicultural work as well as versatile housing services. Local Settlements are pioneering. They are constantly looking for new ways to do social work, especially in those areas where no other organizations or bodies are yet working or providing services.

Even with the changing world, Settlement’s work has always been based on the same enduring values – experience that sense of community strengthens people. We seek this through cooperation and by taking everyone into account. Our work is guided by respect for the individual, acceptance of diversity, trust in people, nurturing equal opportunities, as well as helping the most vulnerable.