The Finnish Social Insurance Institution Kela is to stop offering phone services in Arabic, Somali and Russian after Christmas.
The agency says there have been challenges in organising day-to-day work which have to be addressed if the service is to ever continue. While the telephone helpline service was helping around 2000 people every month, in practice a quarter of the calls were going unanswered.
“This is truly regrettable. In the future we hope to be able to continue with the service and develop it” says Matti Kujala, Director of Customer Services for the Greater Helsinki Area.
“We have seen how useful the service has been to our customers” he adds.
In future customers can get help on the phone in Finnish, Swedish and English and other languages will be offered by special arrangement. Kela clients in any case have a right to the help of an interpreter if they cannot easily communicate with the agency.
Website is multilingual
While the phone service is coming to an end, Kela offers a wide range of language options on its website.
The full site is available in Finnish; Swedish; English; three Sámi languages and easy Finnish.
There’s also a wide range of information available on the website in Russian; Estonian; Kurdish; Arabic, Farsi, Somali; and Finnish and Swedish sign language via videos.
In addition, information about Kela and the benefits system is available at the InfoFinland website, a dedicated portal for immigrants to Finland.
There is information in twelve languages: Finnish, Swedish, English, Russian, Estonian, French, Somali, Spanish, Turkish; Chinese, Farsi and Arabic.