Yesterday we had a bit of a clear out the basement, which we usually do once or twice a year. We threw out a lot of blankets and cushions that we no longer use and as usual took them to the rubbish shed. This is the place where all waste is placed alongside the recycling. About twenty minutes later I realised I forgot to take one last bag. So I proceeded to put it with the rest of the things that we threw away. As I opened the door and saw an elderly lady rummaging through the rubbish.
She didn’t acknowledge me, in fact, she didn’t I wasn’t even there. I didn’t want to interrupt her, so I waited and returned later. I’ve noticed that she had taken a lot of things that we threw out, and there were bags of disposed food that had been ripped open. It was the first time that I have seen anyone do this in Sweden.
I’ve lived in two cities, Bristol and London that have a large homelessness problem. London in particular has a homelessness problem that has been tackled in the last decade, but there are still thousands of homeless people on the streets. Before I moved to Sweden the only time I had ever seen homelessness people here was in Stockholm, and this was by the central station. Since then I have seen homeless people in Gothenburg, but not once did they approach me to ask for money.
I’ve been involved with homeless charities since 2004. Something I saw that day made me take that decision. I was walking home from Victoria and saw perhaps around 50 to 70 homeless people all lined up next to each other. The thing I remember that day was that the children, couples, and elderly people, I’d never seen it on that level before. Of course, there are many ways that we can assist with homelessness no matter where we live. My decision was to help out twice a year in food shelters once the Christmas and once in the summer.
But yesterday, seeing that lady rummaging through the trash made me realise that Sweden does have a homelessness problem. I just think it is well hidden. I found an article this morning the highlighted the homelessness issue in Sweden. The following is an extract:
“More and more children and young people are getting homeless in Sweden and sleeping rough. The City of Stockholm’s City Mission is now sending alarms and calling for the parliament and the government to take this problem seriously.
The Swedish drive into pure capitalism under the bourgeois government means that social services are either being privatised for companies to make financial gains from or those companies are inefficient in meeting the demand for social services such as housing for the young.
The aim of therefore for the calls for the government to act is redesigned such that the young homeless people will get a personal representative who can assist them in their dealings with the authorities.
No one knows exactly how many young people are out there homeless but they can be seen sleeping rough ion the streets of Stockholm and the main other cities. The report by the City mission will be made to the state parliament every Swedish municipality that they may see an increase in children and young people in homelessness
“It’s about an entire community, where we see that it is harder for young people to establish themselves in adulthood. Housing and employment policies are more of a concerned in this way, but also how to design the welfare and support system we have in Sweden. They have become more complex. People in vulnerable situations are today very hard to make their voices heard and get the help system that is tailored for them,” says Mary Markovits, director of Stockholm’s City Mission.
Many of the young people who are homeless are said to have come from an unsafe home situation characterise by violence and abuse. Either they have run away or have been thrown out. Many don’t know where and who to turn to and they dare not contact social services.
One of the City Mission wishes is to sets up personal representative with the government.
“For young people who are homelessness, i.e., those 14-20 year olds, need special assistance in meeting with authorities in order to describe their situation and really get the help they need. Therefore, I suggest that one should set up personal representative,” said Maria Markovits to Swedish television news program rapport.
This is how Sweden has changed from a country where social equality was the norm to the American style economy where social services are there for the powerful and influential. Sweden is gradually losing its place as the leader in the world for the provision of quality life for its youth. What a shame!”
The article can be found here http://www.scancomark.se/Regional/An-increasing-number-of-young-homeless-in-Sweden.html
So if you go on the above then there is evidence of homelessness within main cities of Sweden. But I’ve not seen one homeless person since in Norrköping since I moved here. So where are they? I’d certainly like to open this up to a debate as I feel homelessness is something that governments tend to ignore no matter what country it’s in.
Those who live in Sweden, what is this like in your city or area?
Would love to read your thoughts.