Low threshold meeting places vital for people in vulnerable positions during covid-19

What has the COVID-19 pandemic meant for the homeless, people in breadlines, and the clients of low-threshold services? This is the question "COVID-19 in the margins of society" research project answers.
COVID-19 at the margins of welfare state

The research project "Covid at the margins of welfare state” (ESR) focuses on experiences of inclusion and everyday life during the Covid19 pandemic among people in vulnerable positions and life situations. It utilizes individual-level data from surveys to clients (N=795) and employees (N=69) of low-threshold meeting places. Low-threshold meeting places are free, semi-public spaces where social interaction and peer support are possible. They also often offer food assistance, service counseling, and opportunities for rehabilitative work and social participation.

The respondents are in many ways disadvantaged compared to the average population due to their exclusion from working life, health status, experiences of loneliness and educational background. Experiences of long-term deprivation are a significant burden in the daily lives of the respondents. Meeting places contribute to addressing these problems and respondents perceive them meaningful in many ways.

According to respondents' evaluations, meeting places have played an important role in helping them to cope with everyday life during a period of stress and longer-term life crises. From the data, two dimensions of experienced participation can be distinguished: factors related to caring about the individual and factors related to agency. Caring is built on the experience of inclusion and experiencing safety and caring in the meeting place. Agency refers to the experience of meaningful action, self-efficacy, and opportunities to help others. The formation of routines in everyday life is also considered important for respondents. Low threshold meeting places offer experiences which can support the wellbeing and coping of individuals in vulnerable positions in a central way.

COVID-19 at the margins of society project is funded by European Social Fund.

Open workshop on the results, 24 May 2023

COVID-19 in the margins of society research project and Helsinki Inequality Initiative INEQ will organize an open (online)workshop on the results of the project on 24 May 2023 at 13:00-15:00.

This event is only held in Finnish.

To participate, please register via E-form.