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Kerava the latest to pilot a project to reduce social exclusion

Following pilots in Mikkeli and Espoo, Kerava joins the successful Tajua Mut! project...


Kirsi Suomalainen

Specialist, Communications and Public Affairs


“Speak out and tackle concerns before they become problems!”

The city of Kerava has followed Mikkeli and Espoo in piloting Tajua Mut! (Understand me!), an operating model for preventing social exclusion among young people. The model promotes multi-professional co-operation among those working with children and young people and enables faster access to early-stage support. Tajua mut! reaches close to 90,000 young people in Finland. Sitra is seeking new municipalities to join the piloting process.

Insufficient or sporadic co-operation among professionals working with children and young people is often found to be the cause of delays in the provision of early-stage support. The Tajua Mut! operating model encourages professionals to flag up their concerns, no matter how small, in their discussions with young people. Where necessary, the model enables one-to-one co-operation between the professional and young person. In the best-case scenario, the young person just needs an adult to ask: “How are you, is everything OK?” The approach is based on openness: nothing is done behind the back of the child, young person or family.

Tajua Mut! is a new operating model for early intervention and preventive youth work in Kerava. The target group includes all of the city’s young people aged 16 to 28,” explains Pertti Rantanen, Director of Leisure Services for the City of Kerava. “The Tajua Mut! model is a key method of implementing the youth guarantee. It will help our city to achieve its goals for the prevention of social exclusion and promotion of well-being among young people, providing families and young people with access to assistance and support in a timely manner.”

The operating model is already in use in Mikkeli and Espoo. Both cities have had positive experiences of using the new tool, which has also been well received by the young people involved. The model was named Tajua Mut! on the basis of suggestions by young people in Mikkeli.

It strengthens co-operation and the exchange of information between professionals working with young people. This prevents young people from having to repeat their story to a different professional on each occasion. Co-operation reduces the extent to which a young person is moved from pillar to post, while all the necessary support and services are provided on a one-stop-shop basis.

Developed under one of Sitra’s previous projects and co-ordinated by Save the Children Finland, the Suunta (Direction) service concept will be incorporated in the Tajua Mut! operating model in all three pilot cities: Espoo, Mikkeli and Kerava. The Suunta service is on call during the evenings in the form of one-on-one chat sessions, providing personal guidance to young people who have questions related to education and employment issues.

“Until now, no tools have been available to help professionals who are working with the same young person to locate each other,” says Kimmo Haahkola, Leading Specialist at Sitra. “The Tajua Mut! operating model enables co-operation between public, private and third sector professionals when they are working with each other, or with a young person or a family.

“The goal is to gradually build a national and comprehensive service system around a young person, based on services which do not depend on the municipality’s financial status or the young person’s place of residence. The major overall goal is to update the youth service system in line with societal changes and prevent the social exclusion of young people.”

Haahkola describes marginalisation as a human tragedy with financial implications: “The lifetime costs to society of one marginalised young person are roughly 1 to 2 million euros. Through intervention at the right stage in life, the situation can be turned around for both the individual and society for a fraction of that cost.”

The basic principles of the operating model and the experiences of the cities of Mikkeli and Espoo have been compiled into a recently published guidebook, Tajua Mut! – an operating model for supporting children and young people (in Finnish).

Further information

News release from Kerava Youth Services (in Finnish) (10 Feb 2015)

Kerava Youth Services

Kimmo Haahkola, Leading Specialist, Sitra:, +358 50 380 8603

Mia Talikka, Special Adviser, Project Manager for Tajua mut! in Kerava:, +358 40 318 2214

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