Introducing The Turku Mother and Child Home and Shelter Association
The Turku Mother and Child Home and Shelter Association is a registered, non-governmental organization founded in 1945, whose statutory purpose is family-oriented child protection work. We are members of the Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters.
The three areas of expertise of the Association are demanding work with babies and infants, crisis- and violence work and assistance during separation and divorce. The demanding work with babies and infants as well crisis- and violence work services are offered both around the clock and as and as open services. Separation and divorce services are provided as open services.
Our units Turku Shelter and the domestic violence unit Pilari are participating in the Domino project.
The Turku shelter is one of the 29 shelters in Finland. Turku Shelter is a home-like environment where victims find a refuge from violence and where they get help to stop the violence. In their crisis, victims of violence get support, guidance and counselling from professionals at the shelter as well as assistance and information for dealing with practical arrangements. The shelter has staff available 24 hours a day and victims can go to shelter either on their own initiative or with help of f. ex. health- and social services or police. It is possible to go there also anonymously. Length of stay is always individual. Staying in a shelter does not cost anything for the client.
The trained staff at the shelter provides immediate help in a crisis, around-the-clock secure accommodation and psychosocial support for those who have experienced domestic violence or a threat of it. The staff in the shelter are trained to meet adult and child victims of domestic violence. The staff helps the victims in their crisis and supports them in dealing with their violent experiences. The shelter offers counselling on legal issues and practical arrangements, such as accommodation. Each client or family has their own room during their stay in the shelter. The facilities at the shelter have been designed so that it is safe for the clients. The period spending in Shelter is always individual and depends on situations and needs of the clients.
The dangerousness of the client’s situation is in shelter always assessed by carrying out an assessment of the risk of violence. A safety plan is also always drawn up. The risk assessment and the safety plan help both the client and the employee understand how dangerous the experienced violence has been. The staff at the shelter explores together with the client what kind of support he or she will need after the stay in the shelter. When necessary, the staff will also collaborate with the municipality and other service providers. The municipality is responsible for providing community care for those of its residents who have experienced domestic violence as well as for arranging support after clients leave the shelter. The responsibility for financing the services provided in the shelters in Finland rests with the State. THL is responsible for the steering, assessment, development and national co-ordination of the shelters for victims of domestic violence.
The domestic violence unit Pilari offers individual, short-term conversational help to all parties of domestic violence when there has been domestic violence or the threat of it. By processing a violent experience, the aim is to strengthen the life management of the client and increase self-understanding to end violence and survive a violent experience.
In Pilari, work on a domestic violence situation is carried out with individuals, couples and families. The work process includes creating a safe and confidential atmosphere. The client is told about the principles of the working process and their stories are heard. Together with the client, the situation is mapped out, violence is recognised and goals for the process are set. In an acute crisis the priority is to stabilize the situation in life. The employee, together with the client, evaluates the possibility of a psychological trauma, recognizes traumatic symptoms and maps out how the client has been able to unravel a traumatic experience. In the beginning a safety plan is created, which is revisited at the end of the process and adjusted if necessary. The process includes continuous risk assessments.
Working with people who have used domestic violence or experience a threat thereof begins by processing the violent situations. By seeking out different points of view about the client’s story, the client can gain better understanding of their own actions, awareness and taking responsibility: in what situations and to what end has violence been used, and how has it possibly affected other members of the family? Alternative actions to violence and its prevention are sought together with the client by reflecting on what could have been done differently and what has previously helped the client in a similar situation. By reinforcing the existing tools, resources and skills of the client, it is possible to increase understanding of how they can influence their own actions. The process aims to give the client experiences of success and space to experiment and practice learning new skills in the daily life. Homework and self-evaluations are given between sessions to help new skills take root and to support the involvement of the client.
Working with clients who have experienced violence in a close relationship begins by working on the violence experience. By seeking out different points of view to the client’s story, it is possible to recognize the consequences of violence and its effects on themselves and their close relationships. Relieving the feelings of shame and guilt of the person who has experienced violence, recognizing different forms of violence and reinforcing clients own space, rights and involvement are central to the process. Understanding their own actions and behaviour in close relationships, strengthening existing resources and learning new skills reinforces their involvement and increases taking responsibility for their own safety.
When working with children and parents the Convention on the Rights of the Child is implemented. Children are helped individually and age-appropriately to process their experiences. The process makes use of different functional methods (e.g., the Trappan model) that reinforce the child’s own coping mechanisms and strengths. Working with children includes giving information as well as going through themes such as safety, emotions and violence.
We in The Turku Mother and Child Home and Shelter Association are pleased to be participating in the Domino project.