In Kristianstad a lot of young people are homeless - support families needed
Last week Kb Mosaik wrote that the number of homeless people has risen sharply in Kristianstad and in Sweden as a whole. The night lodgings run by Stadsmissionen at Näsby were forced to turn away 50 people in October. Last year three people were unable to get a place in October. At the night lodgings there are twelve places.
– We wish we had more places, says Jovana Ilic from Stadsmissionen.
But homeless people under the age of 18 are not allowed to stay at the night lodgings.
Since October Jovana has been doing field-work and visiting work to help young, homeless people. She makes a survey of all the homeless people over 18 , and tries to find support families for them.
At first I was naive, I thought there were about 18 homeless people, after all, Kristianstad isn’t all that big. But there are more than that, and more turn up every day. We’re already up over 30, she says.
Some sleep rough in the parks, others shake down at their friends’ places. A lot of them are unaccompanied minors, this is something we see in our surveys in Malmö and Helsingborg as well.
Our aim is to get hold of all young, homeless people, including those without identification papers, and those who have permanent or temporary residence permits.
There are homeless people who hide, we have a few of them here in the town. It’s mostly boys who are homeless, but there are a few girls too, even some girls who were born in Sweden.
What do the young homeless people do all day?
– They go to school. I haven’t met a single one who doesn’t go to school. The new regulations for the upper secondary school (gymnasieskolan) allow them to go to school, but they don’t have anywhere to live. They live with friends, some live with relatives. They say they live with cousins, but it’s really a question of helpful friends. A few live at their teachers’ homes, there are all sorts of solutions.
The young homeless people attend Framtidsgymnasiet, Söderportgymnasium and other schools.
A lot of them have chosen vocational programmes. The new regulations for the upper secondary school stipulate that they have six months after leaving school in which to find a job.
A few weeks ago there were 200 young people in Skåne who needed somewhere to live.
– 62 of them live in different support families we are in contact with. These are, idealistic people who voluntarily open their homes to a young homeless person. We wish there were more, I’m working on finding more support homes in Kristianstad.
The City Mission works in conjunction with the Red Cross and Save the Children (Rädda Barnen).
People who choose to act as a support home can get a small sum of money for their work, but not many of them take anything. They want to do it to be able to help. I think it’s fantastic.
There are support homes in Arkelstorp and Gärds Köpinge, among other places.
A large number of young people ring to Jovana Ilic every day and ask for help.
– We wish society would open up more and show more solidarity.
People who choose to be support families can run into difficulties.
– I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about how neighbours don’t speak to them because they’ve brought home an unaccompanied minor, or that their friends don’t want to have anything to do with them.
The City Mission (Stadsmissionen) is in contact with folk high schools in Skåne and Blekinge.
We have ten young people living in folk high schools and studying there. I’m taking one young person to the folk high school in Jämshög, and I hope it turns out well. And we’re hoping to establish contact with Önnestad folk high school.
– We want to find solutions for these young people, so that they don’t get stuck in homelessness.
The 30 young homeless people you’ve found, what do they have in common?
– Many of them are unaccompanied. Others who are not unaccompanied have been subjected to threats and drug abuse, and their mental health is unstable. As regards threats, this often occurs in poor relationships. It is hard to make contact with them, not many of them wave their arms and say, ”Hallo there, I’m homeless”
– I tell them I’m here if they want to talk. Some of them choose to leave Sweden if their application to stay is turned down. They just can’t take it any more.
– The young homeless people come here to talk - we have an almoner here too. But a lot of them get in touch with us to hear if we can give them any information about where to live, if we’ve found anything for them.