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Fridays' papers: Tougher times for families, storm clean-up, vivacious Finns

Morning papers take up increasing worries about the long term impact of the coronavirus epidemic on families.

Ihminen ottaa leipäpaketin.
Growing numbers of Finnish families have turned to food banks as the epidemic impacts their financial stability. Image: Petri Aaltonen / Yle

Jyväskylä daily Keskisuomalainen is among the morning papers that carries a syndicated article by the Uutissuomalainen news service reporting that families, especially those with small children, have been hard hit financially by the coronavirus epidemic.

As the paper notes, both the the Finnish Red Cross and the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare say that layoffs and redundancies that have continued since the spring have increased the need for food aid.

The number of families with children in need of food aid has increased more than other groups. During the spring, when most schools switched to distance learning, the need for this kind of aid was further highlighted as children did not even receive school food. Lower income families found themselves increasingly pressured as their spending on food increased.

There are now many people, who have not previously needed help, now reliant on food aid operations run by organisations and congregations. The growing number of people in need is also reflected by an increase in applications for social benefits. And, not everyone knows where to apply or what kind of help they can get.

"There is also under-utilisation. People do not apply for services and benefits because they do not know that they are entitled to them," says Esa Iivonen, an expert on children 's rights and child and family policy at the the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare.

This article predicts that as the epidemic continues, the impact on the financial situation of families will continue to grow. As an example, it notes that the Guarantee Foundation, which provides debt management advice, has reported that this autumn, more and more people have been contacting the helpline with concerns about losing their homes.

The poor financial situation of families with children can cause stress, anxiety and depression for both adults and children.

"The effects on mental health are very significant, and these greatly increase the need for both financial support and services," says Iivonen.

According to various calculation, there were about 119,000–150,000 children living in poverty in Finland before the start of the coronavirus epidemic, writes Keskisuomalainen. The most common type of child poverty is in single-parent families.

More power to the EU

The Kuopio-based Savon Sanomat reviews a survey by the pollster Kantari showing that most Finns would like the European Union to have greater powers to act in crises such as the coronavirus pandemic.

The survey, commissioned by the European Parliament, found that 57 percent of Finnish respondents were in favour of providing the EU with more crisis management powers, but at the same time, only 38 percent backed the idea of giving the EU additional funding.

The survey also mapped the effects of the coronavirus crisis on personal finances. Based on the answers, Finns seem to be getting by better than their European neighbours. Only 21 percent of Finns said that the crisis had affected their livelihoods, compared to 39 percent at EU level.

Storm clean-up

The Helsinki tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reports that repairs of damage caused by Thursday's storm to rail lines and electric power networks is moving along.

As of 8pm Thursday, around 66,500 households in the country were without electricity due to downed power lines. As of 8 am Friday that number was down to around 20,000.

Ilta-Sanomat also reports that the state railways VR said early on Friday morning that most of damage to its tracks and power lines had been repaired overnight.

Meanwhile, Tampere's Aamulehti is one of the papers cautioning motorists about hazardous driving conditions caused by sleet, snow and icy road surfaces.

The paper quotes meteorologist Hannu Valta of the Finnish Meteorological Institute as warning drivers that if they still have summer tyres on their cars, they have no business being out on the roads this morning.

World's most active folk?

Iltalehti reminds its readers that a recent repoprt in the Journal of Health Psychology claimed that the most intelligent people among us are also usually the laziest. Taking life easy also has other benefits, it says, as studies show that people who do so are less likely to burnout and they generally have lower blood pressure.

With this in mind, the paper turns to a bit of "research" carried out by a British website called The Dozy Owl which compared various countries to find out which are the most active and which the laziest.

For the survey, they created an index that included factors such as the number of hours worked, the number of steps taken per person daily, the job rate of the working-age population, the popularity of food delivery, and the prevalence of certain keywords in Google search.

Those keywords included "tips for staying awake," "how to work less," "easy jobs," and "takeaway food".

Using these as a measure, it was found that the the laziest people in the world are the Portuguese, Luxembourgers, Belgians, Turks, and Italians.

The most active people are the Swiss, Swedes, Japanese, Finns, and Spaniards.

Iltalehti concludes by telling its readers to take life easy with a good conscious, since they've already proven themselves to be so vivacious.

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