Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Visit to Kompassi youth information centre (Wed 13.05.09 am)

THE MOG BLOG continues...

So, obviously I'm writing this now in retrospect as it's been a bit manic over the last few days.

Wednesday morning found us visiting the youth information centre at Kompassi in Helsinki ( which is a youth information centre established around 1983 and providing general information for 13-25s.

Kompassi seems to be very much THE info point in Helsinki and with a great deal of experience behind them offer a range of information services both on and off line, including; phone help lines, publications, web services, 7 computers with free internet access, information workshops, drop in facilities, referrals and signposting and media/information literacy.

Kompassi's web pages offer a novel service called trouble shooting corner where young people can post queries anonymously which are guaranteed to be answered within 5 days by a youth info worker. The queries (and responses) are open for debate and comment on the site by other users and offer a forum for discussion. With an apparent fall in face to face enquiries, Kompassi feel investment in these online counselling services to be the future of youth information work in Finland.

Coupled with this, Kompassi offer training and support for other young people to become online peer counsellors/advisers. Training includes ethical issues and moderation of queries that allow a peer led approach through an online forum that reaches across Finland.

Along with the trouble shooting corner, Kompassi have also been involved with a larger scale project involving online counselling within the SNS world. I don't remember the name of the site (Elias, can you help me out?) but it's very much the Finnish equivalent of facebook; a place where young people are. Information workers along with other professionals (police, social services etc.) hold "online surgeries" or chat fora where young people can query and receive advice directly.

The interesting part of this from my point of view is the eagerness of the Finns to reach out (to do outreach work) where young people are, even if that place is online. It seems obvious to me that if there are less face to face information enquiries, that doesn't mean there is less need for youth information work. Young people are just "somewhere else"; online. Maybe if we took more of a youth work approach to working with young people online in the UK?

There was a final point I wanted to make with regard to Kompassi and that is around the indexing/classification of information. Now, no doubt, you guys here in Wales are completely familiar with the concept and appreciate the benefits and advantages it can bring, however in Finland there seems to be no universal indexing system. In Kompassi though there is a comprehensive info index system both on and off line.

That made me very happy!!! But then these thing do!!!

In conclusion, Kompassi was a fantastic example of an information centre that is developing and moving and adapting while still being able to draw on a rich history and experience in information work.

I think it's a real model information resource where the workers really seem to appreciate the role of information in youth work and it's unique approach.

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