REDIS Social Center


Anastasia Artemeva

На русском языке

image: Kriminaalihuollon tukisäätiö

REDIS is located in the heart of Helsinki, near Sörnäinen metro station. The building is owned by Krits, Kriminaalihuollon tukisäätiö, a Finnish non-governmental non-profit organisation supporting convicts, ex-prisoners, and their families. It also provides emergency accommodation for people released from prison. Redis is a social center, open during the weekdays from 9-15.30. Everybody is welcome, the only criteria is that one is not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There is a social worker available to chat with and help to filling out forms for social assistance, housing applications, and cvs. Some of the workers have experiences imprisonment first hand, and use their experience to support those just out of prison.

There are regular activities such as museums visits, sports groups, and women’s meetings. The staff and the clients join together in celebrating national holidays, as well as mourning the passing of those who treated the place like home.

There is a kitchen, and porridge is served each morning at 10 am, and you can come and make coffee at any point. Businesses such as Fazer, as well as local grocery stores and cafes donate bread, cakes, and other supplies that are then used in cooking. There is a weekly cooking class, too, and traditional Finnish get-togethers to grill sausages outdoors in the year, once the sun comes out.

In 2017 I have visited the center regularly and each time brought along some art materials. We had great, at times heated conversations about the meaning of art in different languages -  in English, Russian, and my bad Finnish. I also had some gardening supplies with me, and that was a lovely experience, too, as some clients shared their knowledge in tending plants. In some Finnish prisons there are gardens where flowers are grown for sale, and some prisoners keep their own plants in their cells. The summer approached and our flowers bloomed outside in the yard.

I like to bring books on drawing and art techniques, so the process of research and preparation for the workshop is open, so I brought a book on Japanese ink painting.  Other materials included different colours of inks, small and large flat paint brushes, water in cups, paper towels. This was a collective drawing where we share one large piece of paper, which covered the table. We closed our eyes and imagined and discussed what kind of trees we could be, and why. Drawing with eyes closed often helps to overcome the “fear of a blank page”.  Together we created a forest.

I’m very grateful to be welcomed there.