01.07. Onneksi olkoon: Aaro, Aaron | Palaute
Koko Helsinki

In the deacon shop of Lännen Varustamo, we engage in business by appointment

16.03.2022, 13:23
The project of the Lännen Varustamo deacon shop has proved its worth during its first weeks of operation. Learn more about the deacon shop!
Teksti Lännen Varustamo harmaanruskealla pohjalla, vieressä diakoni Olga kädessään porakone ja paprika, päässä lännenhattu

Lännen Varustamo - A burning passion to build something new


In western Helsinki, in the Huopalahti deanery, diaconal work is supplemented with Lännen Varustamo, which started at the beginning of the year. The year-long project explores the needs of the people of Western Helsinki and possible new service models in this area. The first deacon shop in Helsinki established in the project has proved to be a success during its first weeks of operation.

When the project managers, deacons Pia Saarela and Olga Nurminen, started establishing Lännen Varustamo in January 2022, they had a project plan for the contract, a 13-square-meter space in Pitäjänmäki Church, ready-to-assemble shelves for business and a burning passion to build something new. The first concrete phase of the pilot project was to set up a deacon shop to serve the people of the area. In addition to Pitäjänmäki, the deanery area includes the parishes of Haaga, Kannelmäki and Munkkiniemi.

A lot has happened in a couple of months. Up to the beginning of March, there have been over 800 visits, and more than 400 food baskets of the deacon shop have been distributed. The phone now rings dozens of times a day.

“There are no separate volunteers at Lännen Varustamo. All our people take part. The food bag is taken to people by a driller, car driver, worshipper, a person taking bottles to a return point, social media commentator, a messenger or a neighbor's helper ”, says Pia Saarela.

There are no separate volunteers at Lännen Varustamo. All our people take part.

“Our objective is to build a community. There are no pre-established roles at Lännen Varustamo, such as employee, customer, help seeker, helper; rather everyone finds their place”.

Word about the deacon shop in Pitäjänmäki has spread quickly, and through the diaconal work of the parishes, for example, a variable number of customers come over during the week. Social counselors, social workers and people who have already done business in the shop also inform people of the shop.

How does the deacon shop operate?


The products for Lännen Varustamo's deacon shop come through Stadin Safka, which directs the recovery of surplus products. In addition, occasional donations are received from the dealers in the area. The content of the shopping cart is determined by the customer's needs, and what is currently available in the shop. The products are free of charge for customers.

You can become a customer of the shop either through diaconal work in your area or by contacting Lännen Varustamo directly. A transaction time is agreed with the customer about when the customer can come over for ‘shopping’.

The products are free of charge for customers. - A transaction time is agreed with the customer about when the customer can come over for ‘shopping’.

It is not possible to come to the shop without an appointment. For the employees are only present as agreed. In an organization the size of two employees, regular opening hours would be difficult to arrange - even small spaces do not allow very many customers to engage in business at the same time. Visiting the shop always also provides an opportunity for chatting, counseling service or spiritual direction. That is why business hours arranged for individuals have been found to work at this stage.

Meetings and experimental development


In addition to the meetings in the shop, Lännen Varustamo's activities also include work involving going out: It is possible to meet Olga and Pia in other places including Ristikko Shopping Centre in Konala’s residential area, Kannelmäki Parish’s Paikka, situated in the Kaari Shopping Centre, and in parish events in the deanery. Telephone contacts and some of Lännen Varustamo's channels are also places for interaction.

"We've heard the word that the church should go out, so is this it now?" asked one with delight in an encounter in a shopping Centre. “People have come to the shop who have heard about the activities from a friend we met while walking in Kaari”, says Olga Nurminen. “A small community has already built in the place, which will hopefully grow during the project. Outside the church, you can reach people who have not been involved in church activities before. It is a pleasure to note that they join us willingly to work with us”.

Outside the church, you can reach people who have not been involved in church activities before.

In the parish of Pitäjänmäki, diaconal work plays an important role and new ways of working are actively sought. Maika Vuori, vicar of the Pitäjänmäki parish, who is the owner of the Lännen Varustamo project, describes Lännen Varustamo as an experimental development. “It is clear that we need new ways of working in the future, and we can now try out new models at Lännen Varustamo. The food aid offered through the deacon shop has clearly been felt to be necessary and useful”, Maika Vuori says. Food assistance provided through the shop is also a cost-effective way.

We humans are all help seekers and helpers in our various roles.

People have a sincere desire to take part and be helpful. “We humans are all help seekers and helpers in our various roles. We do not know about life and future. Interaction and working together is the best thing about this project. In that case, there are no helpers and helpseekers; there are people with different needs and different gifts”, Maika Vuori notes.