• Sweden's news in English
 

Stockholm launches 'beggar hotline'

Published: 13 Jun 2014 17:18 GMT+02:00

The past few years have seen a dramatic increase in homelessness in Stockholm, largely due to migrants from poorer EU nations.

"Unfortunately many of these people are living under very difficult conditions," Stockholm political secretary Ole-Jörgen Persson told The Local.

"We have seen a need for the social services to play a more active role, and try to find these people and see if they need and want help."

He added that there are more beggars on Stockholm's streets than ever before, and that many have no source of income at all. 

Immigrants from countries such as Romania frequently end up with neither job nor shelter in the city, crouching in doorways and hunching in the corners of subway stations hoping for a bit of spare change. 

The Stockholm social services department has now received an additional 5 million kronor ($750,000) from the city, funds with which they plan to hire a team of Romany-speaking social welfare workers to work exclusively with homeless EU immigrants. In addition, a telephone hotline will be launched on June 18th.

"What we’re doing now is starting a hotline people can call and give information, so they can let the social services know about anything that needs our attention. It could be that someone is worried about a homeless person’s health, or that a child needs help, or that they've set up a tent outside a preschool," Persson said.

He added that the city has made many efforts to help the city's homeless, whether it be to assist them to return home or by increasing their quality of life while in Stockholm. 

Joakim Trolle, co-founder of non-profit organization BonzaiBeat, is not convinced.

"That's bullshit. If you read about the purpose of the hotline, it isn’t actually to help these people," Trolle told The Local. "It’s just to give answers to people calling in."

Trolle added that there are already Romany-speakers out on the streets assisting the homeless - volunteers. He said that the city's initiative might be a step in the right direction, but was far from a solution. 

"They're just sweeping it under the rug. The problem is that we have accepted an ideology with open borders, but we can’t accept that it means poor people turn up too," Trolle explained.  "We need to understand that when we work with open borders, we have to handle the negative aspects as well."

On occasion groups of beggars gather and build small shacks and settlements, which generally stand for a few days or weeks until the Swedish Enforcement Authority (Kronofogden) gets around to tearing them down. To set up camp on municipality land is illegal, regardless of whether the campers are Swedes or immigrants.

The city's evictions combined with increasing homelessness has resulted in a cat-and-mouse game between authorities and immigrants, who are constantly on the move.

"It's still illegal to camp on city ground," Trolle remarked, wondering how it could help simply for the city to know where people were camping.

"We drive over their camps with a bloody bulldozer, literally, every day, right now. Before we can find a solution, we have to decide: Do we want to help these people or not? We can’t say that we want to help them and then not actually come up with any helpful solutions."

Trolle also worried that the hotline will primarily be used for racist complaints.

"This is nothing new. It’s how these people have been treated for hundreds of years. It’s basically the way the Nazis treated the Jews."

But Ole-Jörgen Persson disagrees.

"Of course there is a risk that there will be negative calls as well," he told The Local. "But the receptionists are trained and will certainly be able to tell when it’s a serious caller." 

The hotline will be staffed by social workers. Additional details about the social work team have yet to be released, but Persson is optimistic about the move. 

"It’s a very exciting project to follow, and see how we can help people. That’s the goal of the project, to help."

Solveig Rundquist
Follow Solveig on Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
World reacts to notorious Swedish spy's death
Eugene Sydholt, better known as Swedish spy Stig Bergling, being released from Sweden's Anstalten Asptuna prison in 1997. Photo: TT

World reacts to notorious Swedish spy's death

News of Stig Bergling's death made global headlines on Thursday, and by the end of the day it was Twitter's 10th most trending topic in the world. READ  

Christian Democrat party leader quits politics
Christian Democrat leader Göran Hägglund is quitting politics. Photo: TT

Christian Democrat party leader quits politics

Göran Hägglund, the leader of one of Sweden's four centre-right opposition Alliance parties has resigned, insisting it had nothing to do with the controversial December Agreement that the Alliance struck with the government. READ  

Presented by Verksamt.se
Stockholm job fair helps immigrant entrepreneurs
The scene at Bazaren in Stockholm. Photo: The Local

Stockholm job fair helps immigrant entrepreneurs

One of Sweden's largest job fairs, Bazaren, kicked off in Stockholm on Thursday, with an estimated 10,000 people set to attend the event with a special focus on entrepreneurs. The Local was on hand to survey the scene. READ  

Teenage gunman threat at Gothenburg school
Police in Gothenburg are searching for the missing gunman. Photo: TT

Teenage gunman threat at Gothenburg school

A teenage gunman threatened a female teacher at a high school in Gothenburg on Thursday afternoon, before fleeing the scene. Police told The Local that a huge operation was underway, with patrol cars and a helicopter scouring the city. READ  

Swedish Dads project gives surprise snapshot
Bävman and his 3-year-old son, Viggo. Photo: Johan Bävman

Swedish Dads project gives surprise snapshot

Sweden is often described as one of the most gender-equal nations in the world, but when Swedish father Johan Bävman started a photo project about being a dad during his paternity leave, he realized his country didn't always match global expectations. READ  

Integration now second biggest voter issue
A mosque in Stockholm. Photo: TT

Integration now second biggest voter issue

Education is the top issue for Swedish voters, with integration coming second, in a new poll which also suggests growing concerns about rising Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in Sweden. READ  

Sony ditches streaming service for Spotify
Swedens most famous start-up is gaining rapid momentum. Photo: TT

Sony ditches streaming service for Spotify

Swedish music streamer Spotify will provide the soundtrack for Sony devices, the two companies have announced, spelling the end to the streaming music service from the Japanese tech giant that invented the Walkman. READ  

The Local List
Top five trends from Stockholm Fashion Week
Stockholm Fashion Week. Photo: Kristian Löveborg/Fashion Week.se

Top five trends from Stockholm Fashion Week

Stockholm's twice-yearly fashion week wrapped up on Wednesday night, with bare backs, bellbottoms and beige among the top trends spotted by The Local on the catwalks. READ  

Sweden wins bronze at food 'World Cup'
Tommy Myllymäki from Sweden came third in the contest. Photo: TT

Sweden wins bronze at food 'World Cup'

The world's most prestigious food competition, Bocuse d'Or, has wrapped up in Lyon, France, with a top Swedish chef scooping a bronze and a Norwegian talent taking the crown. READ  

What's on in Sweden
What’s on: January 31st - February 7th
Jokkmokk Market is set to draw in the crowds this week. Photo: TT

What’s on: January 31st - February 7th

Gothenburg's Film Festival is underway, the Swedish capital has got its skates on as it hosts the European figure skating championships for the first time in decades, while Jokkmokk in northern Sweden is stepping back in time. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
People-watching: January 28th
Gallery
IN PICTURES: European Figure Skating Championships in Stockholm
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
National
Does Sweden help returning Isis fighters more than Swedish veterans?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: January snow snaps
Blog updates

26 January

The mysterious -s, part 1 (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! How is your Swedish coming along? A while ago I read on a forum on The..." READ »

 

23 January

Editor’s blog, January 23rd (The Local Sweden) »

"Happy Friday from The Local’s team in Stockholm. We can’t wait for the weekend, when we’re planning..." READ »

 
 
 
Society
Is Sweden's healthcare system a national embarassment?
Gallery
Property of the week: Skanör, Vellinge
Lifestyle
'Life as a Swedish candy-maker is sweet'
National
Why Sweden's Left party wants a European 'Red Spring'
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's hottest new fashion designers for 2015
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Who travels on Stockholm's different subway lines?
Lifestyle
Why this Swedish baby is a US hit
Lifestyle
'Limousine' snowplough for sale
People-watching: January 24th - 25th
Gallery
People-watching: January 24th - 25th
Society
Meet the 'beggars' buttoning up immigration critics
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden this week
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Madeleine through the years
Features
Learn Sweden's bizarre dating lingo
People-watching: January 21st - 22nd
Gallery
People-watching: January 21st - 22nd
Society
Why Sweden's viral 'genital' video is getting an English remake
National
Why does Sweden's Luleå have a giant ice beaver?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Who are Sweden's richest one percent?
Business & Money
How a classic Swedish snack got a revamp for 'busy' Stockholmers
Lifestyle
The Local's top Swedish acts for 2015
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Årets Bild photography prize winners
Business & Money
'I met my Swedish man in Tokyo's first Ikea store'
Gallery
Property of the week: A cozy apartment in Bromma, Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching: January 17th - 18th
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish gravad lax
Lifestyle
Four hot Swedish home design trends
National
How The Local's video on a strange Swedish sound went viral
Gallery
People-watching: January 14th
National
The Local's guide to Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Politics
Paris attacks: Knock-on effects in Sweden and across Europe
National
Swedish Muslims react to new Charlie Hebdo magazine
National
The Local talks to Sweden's Home Affairs Minister about Paris attacks
Business & Money
Will Spotify launch on stock market after users rocket?
Accelerated
Texans and Swedes to play ice instruments
Gallery
Property of the week: An 18th century mansion in Stockholm
Business & Money
'Snowboarding drew me to work in chilly Sweden'
National
Are Sweden's royals moving to London?
National
How Sweden's Charlie Hebdo rally broke a winter protest record
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Madeleine through the years
Sponsored Article
Everything you need to know about moving to Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

1,135
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se
Counselling and Psychotherapy in English
Sometimes living in another culture can cause stress, confusion and feelings of sadness and loneliness. Talking to a professional psychotherapist/counsellor might help you. I am a UKCP Reg. psychotherapist. My practice is in Södermalm, Stockholm.
Contact me to discuss your options