By Nora Peter, IFRC

Loneliness is a serious problem in Finland with about 10 per cent of teenagers and young adults feeling isolated. Face-to-face activities that bring people together have been the backbone of Finnish Red Cross volunteer programmes for decades and 2017 saw them taken to the next level – online gaming.

Youth volunteers created a Red Cross world in Minecraft – a video game played by millions around the globe which sees players build towns and cities together. By using an online platform, young people from isolated parts of Finland were able to meet each other remotely.

The project was among the winners of the IFRC’s annual Youth on the Move award announced in Turkey last month.

The Finnish Red Cross’s Varpu Salmenrinne explained: „Some of the remote areas of Finland are not possible to reach with our traditional activities. Through the online game, our volunteers formed personal relationship with young people who felt lonely from a distance.”

Empowering female volunteers

The Tajikistan Red Crescent was also recognized at the youth awards for its work empowering women and girls which has led to a doubling of female volunteers.

Red Crescent teams are rolling out workshops on healthy living, diversity and gender equality to encourage young people to set up their own events, debates and sports clubs in their communities and get involved with the Red Crescent.

Both projects won 2,000 Swiss francs to spend on Red Cross and Red Crescent projects, a laptop and 20 hours of coaching and technical support from experts at the IFRC.

Full list of winners of the 7th Youth on the Move Award is available here.