In May, Balmuir took part in the annual charity fashion show MLL UP, organized by the Finnish Mannerheim League for Child Welfare’s Uusimaa regional organization. The fashion show in Helsinki raises funds for Uusimaa region’s support person activities for families with children. Johanna Pirinen, Uusimaa region’s coordinator for support persons told us about her personal insights about the event and Mannerheim League.
Where did the idea for MLL UP charity fashion show come from?
The idea originated from a conversation between the then Chairman of Mannerheim League Uusimaa reagional organization Saija Toropainen and fashion influencer Klara Kivilahti. Saija told Klara about her concerns about families’ welfare and her desire to support families in time and to bring attention to Mannerheim League’s Uusimaa regional organization’s support person activities. They came up with the idea to raise funds for preventive child protective work with a charity fashion show. This year the event was organized for the sixth time and it has been sold out almost every year.
How did you end up working for the Mannerheim League and how long have you been involved with the organization?
I ended up working for Mannerheim League’s Uusimaa regional organization through voluntary work. Mannerheim League has been a part of my professional and personal life for years. I was an active volunteer in the board of the regional organization, in the family cafe and as a support person for families. My studies in social services in 2011-2014 increased my desire to help families with children. As a student it was already clear to me that I wanted to work for Mannerheim League. Mannerheim League’s values are similar to my own and I want to do my part in helping families with children, especially in the preventive work.
In what ways is Mannerheim League a part of the everyday life of children and families?
Mannerheim League’s Uusimaa regional organization has offered support to hundreds of families through things like support persons and temporary child care services. Support persons work with individual families and support their everyday lives in several ways. Local organizations offer peer support and affordable hobbies for children.
Family cafes run by volunteers are places where parents can meet each other and gain strength to their parenthood while their children can meet other children their age to play with. Volunteering in Mannerheim League gives a chance to work in the board of a local organization or at a family cafe. You can also become a support person for families, a friend for an immigrant parent or a teen or a leader of a peer group and so on.
In my opinion, Mannerheim League’s Uusimaa regional organization’s performance is very up-to-date and we continuously develope our activities based on the needs and hopes of families with children. We want to support the families in their everyday lives. For me, Mannerheim League’s Uusimaa regional organization is an active operator in children family services, as a part of a lively network of citizens’ organizations.
For how long has Mannerheim League’s Uusimaa regional organization organized support person activities for families? What is the work actually like?
We have been organizing support person activities since 2010. I have been the coordinator of family activities for three years now, and I wouldn’t change a day. It is a pleasure to be involved in significant work for families and hear the feedback of how the support from our volunteers has helped them to cope. The support persons are ordinary, responsible adults with the desire to help and be a part of the everyday lives of children with families. Our regional organization recruites, educates and coordinates the activities. Once a person becomes a volunteer for the support person system, they commit to being by the family’s side for one year, giving them their time, presence, listening ears and an extra pair of arms for the children to be held in. At best, this gives joy and energy for the volunteer too.
Photos by: Leena Aro