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Helsinki shelters full, many turned away

Last year 150 people were denied room at safe houses or shelters, with the figure expected to rise this year. The reason for the overflow, cited in daily Turun Sanomat, is lack of funding.

Image: Adam Bellgrau / Yle

A total of 150 people were turned away from shelters in Finland last year, and heightened demand together with funding woes are forcing associations to cut their intake of dwellers in need. The rise in demand is thought to be due to domestic violence being identified more commonly.

If funding issues continue, some shelters may even have to close down, leaving further aid-seekers in the lurch. Single mothers around age 30 are typical candidates for shelter rooms.

"This is a new trend that has started occurring in the past couple of years," says Karola Grönlund, head of the Helsinki Shelter Association. "We don't know the reason for the rise in clients, but we feel that people are more aware of the symptoms of domestic violence and are more apt to seek assistance."

The lowered threshold for seeking help is a positive phenomenon, says Grönlund, and continues by saying that if a shelter cannot take on those in need then municipal social workers will.

A typical stay at a mother and child shelter is about three weeks.

A government-commissioned report issued in 2013 suggested that the number of shelters should be increased five-fold.

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