13,000 touching and momentous encounters


The act of supporting another human being is not only comforting to the receiver but a very rewarding activity to the giver too – making it one of the most motivating aspects of being a volunteer. Ensto is supporting the OLKA® peer support network, providing peer support to the ill and their close ones.

In the accidental case of illness, either personal or to someone close, peer support is irreplaceably important. The volunteering individuals at OLKA® are providing compassionate peer support – a listening ear and shoulder to lean on – from personal experience. Hospital volunteers also work, as an example, as lobby assistants and play together with the children department’s little and brave patients.

“Most of our volunteers are indeed peer supporters operating in hospitals. Offering help and support to people who have recently fallen ill as well as to their families and close ones,” says the OLKA network specialist Anu Toija. “Our volunteers know from their own experience of what kind of support they would have hoped for when they fell ill. Thus they can relate to patients on a very personal level,” she continues.

The OLKA network has around 150 volunteers in the hospital district of Helsinki and Uusimaa – a joint authority called HUS. The demand for volunteers is on the rise.

“There’s a massive demand for peer support. Last year the OLKA volunteers encountered around 13,000 patients and their relatives. The biggest patient groups are those suffering from either cancer or heart diseases. OLKA’s challenge is to find peer support to everybody who needs it,” says Toija.

The OLKA network promotes a yearly hospital volunteering seminar, which welcomes everybody from organizations coordinating peer support and hospital staff to volunteers and people in general interested in the subject. The 2018 seminar was held in the summer in Oulu and Ensto was supporting the event.

OLKA’s mission is to provide an unhurried encounter, listening, appreciation and collaboration. These are all values that go hand in hand with Ensto’s own values which promote human centricity, trust and collaboration.