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Social assistance
Tiina Tuulasvaara-Kaleva

Begging was forbidden in Finland and people wandering without jobs were sent to forced labour as vagrants. The local church took care of the indigent population, that is old people incapable of work, sick people, and orphans under the age of twelve, until the late nineteenth century. The poor in Tampere were each designated a number of households, and they would rotate from one of the households to the next one to get food and lodgings for the night. In the 1820s the poor also started to receive annual assistance and a poor relief tax was introduced to Tampere inhabitants in the 1830s. A practice was gradually adopted where the poor were auctioned to the lowest bidder, that is to the people who agreed to let them live and work in their households for the lowest annual compensation from the municipality. James Finlayson founded a children's home, an asylum, to his textile factory. Minor children got dwellings, food, clothes, and spiritual education from the textile factory while they worked there.

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In the 1860s hunger drove people to beg in cities. Already at that time, work houses were founded in Tampere and earthmoving work was provided as relief work; this is the way for example Laukontori square was levelled out. The church gave the responsibility for poor relief to the city in 1875. The assistance the poor received was supposed to be paid back to society for example through work. The municipal poor house was built in Koukkuniemi in the 1880s. Orphans, old people, the mentally ill, and vagrants ordered to forced labour were all placed there. Soon there was no more room at the poor house, so gradually the activities were separated and transferred elsewhere. Special attention had to be paid to children and orphans especially after the war of 1918. Private children's homes, day-care centres and kindergartens became municipal and settlement activities into the countryside began. Towards the end of the 1930s social legislation was being reformed, but the actual realisation of the reforms took place only after the wars. With the co-operation of the government and municipalities a gradual change took place in Finland from poor relief to social services, assistance and security to all citizens.

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