A screenshot from the YouTube broadcast showing the seven panelists and the host.
Seven panelists participated in the discussion.

The third panel discussion concluded the Municipal Council Arena

4.5.2021 15:32
The panelists were municipal election candidates from seven different parties. The event was hosted by actress Ulla-Maija Järnstedt.

The third and last panel event of the Municipal Fair Arena organized by the Imatra City Library was held on National Veterans Day on Tuesday of last week. The theme of the event was seniors' issues. The questions asked to the panelists came from seniors from Imatra. The questions were answered Eija Hauska-Mertanen (cf.), Veikko Hämäläinen (sd.), Juuso Mustonen (iron.), Juha-Pekka Oksanen (ps.), Helena Roiha (middle) and Jarmo Semi (collect.). Contrary to prior information, the Greens were represented Marja Estola, which replaced the blocked Ritva Pohjolaa.

Problems of housing for seniors

The first question was how to solve the situation of elderly people living in their own house, when they can't afford to keep the house but can't find a buyer for the house. At the same time, questions were asked about the adequacy of care and living places.
Basic Finns' Oksanen supported elevator and accessibility construction with the support of Housing Finance and Development Center ARA. He also suggested whether the city could redeem a lonely person's detached house at market price and put it up for rent. Mustonen of the Vasemmistoliiton also supported the utilization of ARA and communal senior housing, where the needs of seniors are met already during the construction phase.

The center's Helena Roiha also gave her support for community housing, and in addition, a right-of-occupancy apartment could be a good option. He pointed out that an elevator can always be built, but not all residents want one. Kokoumus Semi offered a chair lift as a lighter solution.

Veikko Hämäläinen stated that Imatra must find a solution to the fact that, for example, in Vuoksenniska, 85% of people over 64 living in apartment buildings live in a building without an elevator. ARA's support should therefore be used. Hämäläinen was also afraid that if the detached house does not sell, it will be left to the heirs. Eija Hauska-Mertanen also considered it problematic from the point of view of zoning if the city is full of empty apartments. He envisioned an exchange between generations, where the younger generation would move from apartment buildings to single-family housing, and the elderly would replace them in apartment buildings.

Vihreiden Estola stated that the Finnish countryside is emptying everywhere, which means that usable buildings have to be demolished as unnecessary. By improving the appeal of Imatra, the demand for single-family houses would perhaps also increase.

Discussion about the value of seniors

The panelists were asked to take a stand on the message, the author of which felt worthless as a woman living alone in a single-family house, with a 43-year working career behind her. They were asked what the value of seniors is in society and what could be done at the local level to raise it.

Many thought it was sad to hear that a senior feels worthless in this society. The question shows how the need for community grows as a person's social environment narrows for one reason or another. It was found that a dignified old age belongs to everyone, and at the local level, supporting services for seniors and supporting aging life are concrete ways.

Every elderly person was seen as a resource, and encounters between generations were considered important. This would prevent loneliness and provide a social safety net. It should be possible to make better use of the amount of knowledge and skills of seniors.

The decision in working life was found to be a significant life change, which may result in negative feelings, depression or other health problems. However, life does not stop when working life ends. The panelists hoped that the seniors themselves would notice that they have value, and above all, that they would seek common value from community. This would create the wisdom of old age. Life and joy should be preserved.

Where does digital support for everyone come from?

Next, the panelists were asked how they would ensure sufficient digital support so that no one falls out of the scope of digital services. It was concluded that not everyone can be made to learn how to use digital services. Many have relatives or other people to help, but not all do. So a coordinated system is needed, through which help would reach everyone. It was seen that the city should have its own digital support person whose workstation could be in the library, for example.

Several panelists considered the library to be a place where you can get education and culture also in digital matters. In their opinion, the library must provide support that guides people to use digital services. It is a matter of adapting the library to today and the future.

It was noted that digital guidance is also given as a voluntary work, which could harness young diginatives.

The municipal election arena ends

The third panel discussion concluded the Kuntavaaliareena project of the Imatra city library, which was financed by the Finnish independence celebration fund Sitra. The project was part of Sitra's Libraries for the People's Powers project complex, the aim of which is to improve citizens' opportunities for participation and influence in social decision-making.

- The parties received our project well, and the panels were well attended. This was an interesting and versatile experiment and completely new for the Imatra library, says the project coordinator Sari Toivonen.

Due to the corona restrictions, all three debates were held remotely, which could be followed live on the city of Imatra's YouTube channel and Facebook. The panels can be viewed until the election with Finnish subtitles at www.imatra.fi/kuntavaalipanelit.

Additional information:

Project coordinator Sari Toivonen
p. 020 617 6607
sari.hopeatimatra.fi (sari[dot]toivonen[at]imatra[dot]fi)