Helping refugees thrive in a more inclusive Sandviken, Sweden
Coming to a new country can be exceedingly difficult for refugees, many of whom lack a support system. Framsteget, an initiative created by Sandvikens IF, works to create a sense of community belonging through sport.
Sandviken, a municipality in east-central Sweden, is home to many refugees, primarily from Syria, Eritrea, Somalia, and Afghanistan. Coming to a new country can be exceedingly difficult without a support system, for children and adults alike. Making positive connections and ensuring community support allows people to survive and thrive.
Using sport to bring the community together
Framsteget recognizes the impact physical activity can have on overall wellbeing. In keeping with one of its key pillars, the group hosts evening football matches to keep people of all ages engaged. However, these matches are only one activity that underscores what Framsteget is trying to accomplish. “We talk about what it is to be a good friend and teach respect,” explains Abdolah. “But we don’t just go into a school and talk about something, then leave. We really work to provide continuity, so that after school, kids have the opportunity to participate in our activities. They see the same leaders both in school and after school. This helps with the long-term relationships we’re trying to build.” This continuity and the stability of the relationships being cultivated have been transformative. “Some of these people came to Sweden with no guidance, no references. They didn’t even speak Swedish. Now several of them are currently studying at esteemed universities in Sweden.”
Much of Framsteget’s benefits are immeasurable for participants, but going forward, the group hopes to better quantify their results. “It’s easy for me to sit here and say that we’re doing great. Now Region Gävleborg is working to follow us for a year or two and scientifically measure the impacts we have on our participants,” says Abdolah.