Shelter Opened at Smålands

Shelter Opened at Smålands

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Martin, a representative from Smålands Nation and Joakim Månsson Bengtsson, spokesperson for Gröna studenter and the driving force behind the newly formed association Hjälp tiggare i Lund.Photo: Jens Hunt.

The engagement for homeless EU migrants in Lund started in social media. Part of this engagement is now located in one of Smålands Nation’s basement premises.

A short and intense snowstorm drew in over Lund yesterday, and it has become winter in Sweden, though an unusually mild one.

In the office of Smålands Nation are Martin, a representative of Smålands Nation, and Joakim Månsson Olsson, spokesperson for Gröna studenter, and the driving force behind the newly formed association Hjälp tiggare i Lund. They are two among a number of others who have seen to it that Smålands Nation lets one of its basement premises to the association.

“A great number of the members of Smålands Nation want to do something for the homeless EU migrants, and this autumn, we had a fund-raiser for clothes, for example,” Martin says.

The Nation’s wish to help made Smålands nation and the newly formed association Hjälp tiggare i Lund meet, this winter.

“When winter came, I realised that we actually have available premises here at Smålands, which we can rent out, and then we contacted the association,” he continues.

A structural problem
After the first contact, things got in motion quickly. But getting a hold of additional premises, to offer more homeless people shelter, has proven to be very difficult for the association. Schools, other associations, and other nations in Lund have been approached with the question, but none have been willing to rent out.

“There is a high demand for places to sleep, and we are in great need of more spaces to rent,” Joakim Månsson Bengtsson says.

Joakim Månsson Bengtsson says that there was nothing stopping schools renting out their gymnasiums when 5,000 children came to Lund, to partake in Lundaspelen. He thinks that it is a structural problem.

“This time, it does not concern white children, but an already heavily discriminated group of people; that fact has shown that it is not that easy to find premises to rent.”
Why have other nations not proven willing to rent out their premises, do you think?
“Many nations have their focus on generating money and creating club events that draw people, and then, an association concerned with homeless people does not rank high on the agenda,” Martin says.

Favourable reception
Neighbours have received Småland’s initiative favourably, and everyone has, thus far, proven to be curious about the project. And since the rent is funded by money from private donations, through Hjälp tiggare i Lund, the project does not result in any cost for the members of the Nation. Apart from offering places to sleep, the project also has side-effects, where anti-discrimination is a primary focus, and groups of people who do not normally meet, get a chance to make each others’ acquaintance.

“One downside to this is that 18 people are sharing 116 square metres, and that we do have to turn people down when they ask for a place to sleep, but in those cases, we do everything we can to solve the issue in another way,” Joakim Månsson Bengtsson says.

Martin is hoping that the renting out of premises at Smålands is the start of a long-term cooperation.

“This is rather new, as the format is now, but I am hoping that Smålands Nation and Hjälp tiggare i Lund will expand their cooperation in the future.”

Footnote: Martin’s surname has been removed for safety reasons.  

Text: Camilla Göth
Translation: Richard Helander
Photo: Jens Hunt
First published at lundagard.se

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