YMCA Finland

Finland – National Council of YMCAs

Date of foundation of the YMCA: 1886
Membership Status: Full Member
Full member of the World Alliance of YMCAs since: 1905

Brief YMCA History

First YMCA- association was founded in TURKU in 1886, but it could not to get a permission to work for Russian rules. In 1889 after the YMCA`s World Meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, the situation was better and authorities gave permissions to three local YMCAs: Helsinki (capital), Tampere and Joensuu. First official event in Finnish YMCA was ‘the celebration of the YMCA`s Week of Prayer’. Christian youth work with music and outdoor-life were the basic working-form in the beginning.

YMCA of Helsinki was in the beginning also ‘as national council’, which was founded in national basis in 1905.
Finnish movement consisted also mixed groups and had very close co-operation with the Finnish Lutheran Church.

Finnish YMCA founded a special alliance for sports in 1923 (‘The Sport Alliance of Finnish YMCAs’/ Suomen NMKY:n Urheiluliitto; still existing). Also a special Alliance for boys work was formed 1931 (‘The Boys League of Finnish YMCAs’/ NMKY:n Poikienkeskus; to- day a separate movement in Finland).
1n 1938 ‘original YMCAs’ made decision to form a separate national council, because of ecumenical reasons including the aim to postpone ‘the Paris Basis’ (the old council decided to change the mission statement so that it included non-ecumenical purposes and excluded closer international ecumenical work). The new national council got its legal status in 1941. Since that time today ´s national council has worked in same basis in the spirit of ‘the Paris Basis’.

Finnish YMCA started Christian boy`s and youth-work in Finland including camps and own scouting (own scouts-league ‘the Blues’ before the II World War; not any more existing). Big Christian events for men were organised and social services especially for boys and families had big influence to start social- work in hole society and in the Finnish Lutheran Church. Music in many forms had important status in Finnish movement: 15 choirs, one symphony-orchestra and 10 brass-band worked in local associations. Sports in many forms have been whole time in the picture: Finnish YMCA started basketball (in 1938) and volleyball (in 1939) in Finland. Once Finnish movement hosted the world- meeting in 1926 in Helsinki and had close co-operation with the world movement. Co-operation with all Nordic countries has been wide since beginning.

Finnish YMCA started its international social work by helping refugees after the second world war. In 1979 development co-operation work started with The African Alliance of YMCAs and in the Gambia. In 1990 bilateral co-operation started with Estonian YMCA as a part of European fieldwork.
The movement has got whole time new members and local associations and has grown to one of the important youth movements in Finland.

Mission Statement

Mission Statement has been since 1979 the same and the Finnish movement is in the process to change it during 2001. In addition the official statement we have adopted also ‘The Challenge 21’ and other international movement`s basic statements.

‘ The objectives of Finnish YMCA are

– to work as a Christian, ecumenical and international youth movement in Finland encouraging young people to personal faith, healthy life and mental balance
– to work for international understanding, peace, solidarity and justice
– to participate actively in world wide YMCA-work
– to work towards co-operation and fellowship based on firm belief in equality of all human beings
– to work for an environment, which is free the abusive of drugs and encourage members to physical exercise, sports and open air activities
– to create and maintain meaningful hobbies and studies especially among young people
– to maintain the social spirit among members in local, national and international activities
– to help young people, especially those who are in danger to get socially excluded or are already excluded or have social problems, and to assist them to solve their problems
– to encourage people to realise their social responsibilities in society and quarantine the living conditions of the future generations
– to co-operate with other Christian youth movements and governmental bodies to achieve a broader support for YMCA activities and ideas

Main Programmes

Christian work:

Christian impulses are included in all other activities and events in ecumenical spirit.
Bible- study clubs and Christian events with music (often with other Christian groups).
Christian education (‘confirmations schools’).

Youth work and physical education:
Main emphasis lays in youth and junior sport.
Hobby clubs, scouting and camping.
Sport and physical education in many forms.
International exchange and participation.
Social youth work in many forms.
Training in many items and a special adventure-pedagogical programme (‘Namikointi-ohjelma’).
Two own travel agencies and 12 own camp-sites in local associations.

Music and culture:
Music and culture is very broad interested.
Two own music institutions with about 1.500 pupils.
16 choirs, 8 brass-bands, one symphony-orchestra and tens of small bands
Cultural events and festivals, hobby camps in cultural items.

Training and education:
In all main events and issues are training elements included.
Leadership training in own courses (basic professional education to leaders by governmental and congregational institutions out side YMCA) mostly in local level.

Two own training programmes: TfE (‘Training for Europe’) for international items and ‘Ymcactives’ (‘Namikointi-ohjelma’) for adventure- pedagogical leadership training.

Study- groups and courses with ‘The Christian Study- Council’.
Active participation in EAY`s (‘European Alliance of YMCAs) seminars and events.

Training to development co-operation in G III- programme (‘Co-operation with The YMCA of the Gambia).

Social work:
Social spirit in all other activities.
Programmes to unemployed young people.
Local community groups and activities.
Groups for socially excluded young boys and girls.
Homes and housing for children and young people, who have problems in their own family life.
Work with and for handicapped children.
Leisure time activities for Finnish soldiers (so called ‘soldier homes’).
Multicultural adjustment courses and multicultural hobby groups.
Financial aid to participate in YMCA activities for poor children.
Training for social responsibilities in national and international items.

International work:
International aspect is an essential feature in all activities.
Membership in World Alliance of YMCAs and European Alliance of YMCAs and Nordic YMCA-YWCA Committee.
Development projects in The Gambia.
Close co-operation especially with Baltic and Nordic YMCAs with camps and exchange.

Participation especially European international events and seminars.
Youth exchange in European programme and directly in bilateral basis.
Participation in ICCP- programme (USA).
Special training programme for youth and young adults ‘TfE’.

Financial activities:
Most incomes from own activities and businesses (80%), governmental aid to national council 10 %, local authorities give subsides 5-20% of the budgets of local YMCAs, small aid from The Finnish Lutheran Church for ecumenical youth work (3%).
Big hotel and conference centre in Helsinki YMCA.
Two own travel agencies.
Flats and camp-sites for hire to co-operational companies.
Services sold out to other organisations.
Shares in some shared companies (profits and interests to YMCA work).
Aid from FINIDA (Finnish Foreign Ministry) to projects in the Gambia.
Project-aid to special youth work from Finnish Charity Funds.

NGS, Juha Virtanen
Own web- site: www.ymca.fi
Networking ymca.fi- e-mail addresses. E-mail access near to all local secretaries and associations.
National newspaper ‘Ykkösketju’ and six local YMCA-newspapers and 10 time to time published newspapers.
Printed material for publicity and exhibitions.
Own radio-programme in Helsinki YMCA in local radio-station.

On-line presence

YMCA of Helsinki