Egon and Rasmus working for Tromsø ASVO
©Mats Gangvik

Everyday heroes

Summer and winter, come rain or shine, Rasmus and Egon work tirelessly to keep Tromsø city centre clean, tidy and pleasant for everyone.

Text: Malin Mathisen. Photo: Mats Gangvik

These two everyday heroes work for Tromsø ASVO, which for three decades has provided meaningful jobs for people who have fallen outside the ordinary labour market. In addition, they contribute to great wealth creation in Tromsø. “I love my job. What I like best about it is my colleagues and that we do so many different things,” says Egon, who has been with the company for 25 years.

Strong work ethic

“It’s amazing to come to work every day and see such pride, joy and strong work ethic. It’s quite unique,” says Trude Ørpetvedt, managing director of Tromsø ASVO. “I think everyone could learn a lesson from them!”

The company has approximately 120 employees from all walks of life. Some have a mental disability, some are former drug users, and some are ordinary people. At Tromsø ASVO, they are all simply colleagues. The tasks are varied, but all have a human focus. “We deal with waste both from nursing homes and in the streets. We clean up and do various odd jobs for city centre clients. In addition, we pack and deliver 600 fruitbaskets to local businesses, offer catering services, and run a café at one of the city’s nursing homes. Each employee has an individual plan drawn up for their work tasks, based on a mapping of their skills and strengths. To ensure our employees get a sense of accomplishment, it is important that everyone is challenged in different tasks,” Trude explains. One of the goals of the company and the employees is to be visible in the streets and the industry. This shows that all people has a value and being able to have a job is important for everyone.

Workplace cakes and fruit

We joined Egon and Rasmus as they went about their work on an average Tuesday in February. It is a cool, grey winter’s day in Tromsø, but the lads are in good spirits. Tromsø city centre is small enough that the route to work can be switched up, and it is not uncommon to bump into colleagues and acquaintances along the way. “The best part for me is when there has been a lot to do, and then it calms down, and we get time to talk to each other. That’s always fun. There is a really good atmosphere here,” says Rasmus. Tromsø ASVO’s premises are buzzing with life. The fruit has been packed and is ready for delivery to businesses around the city. For Rasmus and Egon, the day’s work consists of cleaning up in the streets and delivering a homemade carrot cake to one of the city’s cafes. Rasmus wheels the trolley where the carrot cake is safely placed, and Egon follows him with the street cleaning equipment. They are ready for todays work. “My favourite job right now is clearing up in the Mack Brewery backyard on Storgata,” says Egon. Rasmus has worked at ASVO for two years and likes structured work best. Together with three others, he is responsible for systematizing the delivery lists of fruit to companies. “This autumn I’m going to go to a folk high school, but I hope to return to Tromsø and my job here in a few years’ time,” says Rasmus, who is ready for new adventures.

The cake has been delivered, and Egon has finished cleaning up. They are both eager to embark on new tasks. One thing is certain: the work done by the everyday heroes in Tromsø ASVO makes Tromsø a better city.