Rural Local Welfare Systems
Rural Local Welfare Systems (RLWS)
A research project on Local Welfare Service models supporting fluency of everyday life in rural areas in western and eastern Finland
Everywhere in Europe there is a growing interest in developing Local welfare systems (LWS) as a solution to the challenges of the welfare state. Our research project – Rural Local Welfare Systems (RLWS) – focuses on the rural areas of Finland and aims to identify emerging rural local solutions to the issues of welfare in the everyday life of citizens, pioneer local forms of cooperation between various sectors and service providers as well as offer a new kind of place-based development in the culture of welfare.
In spring 2014 the Finnish government made a decision to organise in the future the previously municipally organised public social- and health care services at the level of central university hospitals in five districts (`ERVA- Areas of Special Responsibility`). In the project we assume that this reform will bring about pressure to deepen the understanding of the significance of local conditions and needs of providing welfare. Especially in rural areas, innovative unique structures of welfare services and welfare related activities have emerged based on local needs, resources and partnership between different sectors and organisations. RLWS is run in cooperation with Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius (JYU) and Karelian Institute (UEF) will collect and analyse nformation about existing local welfare models in rural areas which are based on citizen participation, community-orientation and partnership crossing over different sectorial borders. The project will be carried out in four different provinces in Finland: Southern and Central Ostrobothnia, North Karelia and Kainuu. The overall goal of the project is to produce scientific knowledge to be applied in order to develop local services and local democracy.
In the project the local welfare system is understood as a mixture of different actors in the public, private and third sectors supporting the welfare and everyday life of the people living in the area. The outcomes of the LWS may be services as well as measures supporting community development, citizens’ participation and mutual support. LWS are understood as a means to restore the gaps emerging due to the centralisation and privatisation of the welfare services.
RLWS applies different methods of data collection, including case studies. The project is financed by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy / Committee of the Rural Policy. The first funding period of the RLWS project will continues until the end of March 2015.
- The scientific director of the project: Aila-Leena Matthies, Professor of Social Work