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How did a football club become Malmö’s biggest job charity?

How did a football club become Malmö's biggest job charity? It's a question Filippa Engstrand, head of Boost by FC Rosengård, gets so often that she clearly finds it a bit frustrating.

How did a football club become Malmö's biggest job charity?
The photo released by Boost by FC Rosengård to advertise the new Match project. Photo: Boost
“The most common question we get is some kind of question like that,” she tells The Local in the organization's offices in central Malmö. “It's more about why we do it than how, and I'm more into talking about how we're doing things. But the question is good. I think it's proper to ask that question.” 
 
FC Rosengård is most famous as the football club that has won the Sweden's top-tier women's league Damallsvenskan a record ten times (twice as FC Rosengård, three times as LdB FC, and five times as Malmö FF Dam). As Malmö Boll & Idrottsförening, it was also the club where the young Zlatan Ibrahimovic trained as a boy before going on to glory at Malmö FF.  
 
But over the last few years, Boost, the initiative the club started in 2003 to find jobs for the parents of some of its players has grown into one of the largest non-governmental groups working on unemployment in the city. 
 
“We have an organization that is actually as large as the whole football organization itself. I think it's even larger if you look at the budget,” Engstrand says.
 
Indeed, so successful has it become that during last year's election campaign the centre-right Alliance parties in the city pledged to close down Jobb Malmö, the municipal arm of Sweden's state employment services, and hand over all of its duties to FC Rosengård.
 
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FC Rosengård has won the Swedish women's league ten times. Photo: Andreas Hillergren/TT
 
Since 2011 Boost has sent 2,200 young men and women on to work or full-time education by providing a one-stop shop employing teachers, therapists, recruiters, and coaches, who can build up their confidence and motivation. 
 
“Full-time education is actually the result that we really, really want,” says Engstrand. She fears that the clients who are currently managing to get jobs in today's booming economy without needing to improve qualifications risk becoming long-term unemployed in a future downturn. 

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Boost receives its clients from Malmö's social and employment services, but about half of those who come have asked to join the programme after hearing about it from others. 
 
Engstrand says it is important that Boost receives a mix of people, some already more or less employable and some far from the labour market. 
 
“Our idea was that even if you are a hard case, you should be able to come here and feel like everybody else,” Engstrand says. “So we worked very hard with getting Boost a good reputation and a good image so you don't feel that it's stigmatizing, so you don't feel like 'this is where everybody that is really bad comes'.” 
 
The appeal for politicians is that the programme appears relatively cheap. 
 
“A place here at Boost costs only 25,000 kronor ($2,700). That's the total cost of going to therapists, going to teachers, help with their grades, and going to coaching,” she says.  
 
“So that's maybe what the Alliance parties were talking about: If we want to do something about youth unemployment, we can send everybody to Boost, because for 25,000 kronor, they actually succeed.”
 
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Sweden's centre-right opposition parties visited Boost in August last year. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
 
But despite a high-profile visit during the election campaign by Sweden's opposition leader Ulf Kristersson, Engstrand is in fact adamant that organizations like hers can never realistically supplant the role of the state. 
 
“I think it's very positive for us to get the attention, but I don't think it's very well thought through,” she says.
 
“You can't compare what we do at FC Rosengård with what the whole municipality of Malmö does in labour market initiatives.” 
 
FC Rosengård has a very specific niche in helping prepare people take advantage of the education, training, and recruitment services provided by the municipality. 
 
“We see ourselves in the middle, as an intermediary, because we have something that the others lack,” she says. “People who live in the segregated areas of Malmö don't trust the system, they don't trust society, they don't trust the public sector. But they do trust us.” 
 
Filippa Engstrand looks out over Rosengård from the roof of her offices. Photo: Richard Orange/The Local
 
From the rooftop of her offices in the old offices of the Pågen bread factory, she points out over the steam of the factory towards the troubled areas of Rosengård and Nydala. 
 
“We're less than 15 minutes away from the places where most of our clients live,” she said. “I think we're in the real centre of Malmö.”
 
The Boost programme is now being wound down after seven years, partly because the booming economy over the past two or three years has meant that many among Boost's target group have been able to find jobs. 
 
Engstrand is now focusing on setting up a successor project called Match, which, like Boost, is partly funded by the European Social Fund. 
 
The idea is to focus on the physical and mental health problems which she says FC Rosengård has frequently seen among its clients. 
 
“Approximately 50 percent of the young people who come to Boost, or perhaps more, have issues with their health. They have anxiety, depression, cognitive behavioural issues, and maybe addictions.”
 
She has already hired 12 therapists and trainers, who started working on the project in February. 
 
The project was formally launched on April 12th and the first participants will join on May 1st. Engstrand hopes to reach 620 people with the project by 2021, improving their mental and physical health and so removing a key obstacle to joining the workplace. 

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READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

A reader got in touch to ask how long he had to work in Sweden before he was eligible for a pension. Here are Sweden's pension rules, and how you can get your pension when the time comes.

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

The Swedish pension is part of the country’s social insurance system, and it can seem like a confusing beast at times. The good news is that if you’re living and working here, you’ll almost certainly be earning towards a pension, and you’ll be able to get that money even if you move elsewhere before retirement.

You will start earning your Swedish general pension, or allmän pension, once you’ve earned over 20,431 kronor in a single year, and – for almost all kinds of pension in Sweden – there is no time limit on how long you must have lived in Sweden before you are eligible.

The exception is the minimum guarantee pension, or garantipension, which you can receive whether you’ve worked or not. To be eligible at all for this, you need to have lived in Sweden for a period of at least three years before you are 65 years old. 

“There’s a limit, but it’s a money limit,” Johan Andersson, press secretary at the Swedish Pension Agency told The Local about the general pension. “When you reach the point that you start paying tax, you start paying into your pension.”

“But you have to apply for your pension, make sure you get in touch with us when you want to start receiving it,” he said.

Here’s our in-depth guide on how you can maximise your Swedish pension, even if you’re only planning on staying in Sweden short-term.

Those who spend only a few years working in Sweden will earn a much smaller pension than people who work here for their whole lives, but they are still entitled to something – people who have worked in Sweden will keep their income pension, premium pension, supplementary pension and occupational pension that they have earned in Sweden, even if they move to another country. The pension is paid no matter where in the world you live, but must be applied for – it is not automatically paid out at retirement age.

If you retire in the EU/EEA, or another country with which Sweden has a pension agreement, you just need to apply to the pension authority in your country of residence in order to start drawing your Swedish pension. If you live in a different country, you should contact the Swedish Pensions Agency for advice on accessing your pension, which is done by filling out a form (look for the form called Ansök om allmän pension – om du är bosatt utanför Sverige).

The agency recommends beginning the application process at least three months before you plan to take the pension, and ideally six months beforehand if you live abroad. It’s possible to have the pension paid into either a Swedish bank account or an account outside Sweden.

A guarantee pension – for those who live on a low income or no income while in Sweden – can be paid to those living in Sweden, an EU/EEA country, Switzerland or, in some cases, Canada. This is the only Swedish pension which is affected by how long you’ve lived in Sweden – you can only receive it if you’ve lived in the country for at least three years before the age of 65.

“The guarantee pension is residence based,” Andersson said. “But it’s lower if you haven’t lived in Sweden for at least 40 years. You are eligible for it after living in Sweden for only three years, but it won’t be that much.”

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