LIVING ON THE EDGE OF DESPAIR
Despite of low poverty rate and high employment in Sweden, there are many people who live in misery. People who are homeless, who have fallen of the system and find it difficult to find a way back to normal. The main problem is that the government believes that drug and alcohol addiction, as well as mental health problems, are often linked to so-called voluntary homelessness.Whatever the cause of homelessness, many of those affected struggling with their life and find it difficult to navigate their way through the complicated social system. They fight their way out through all the requirements to receive medication and social support. Bureaucratic and regulated social welfare service system is so complicated and difficult to orientate in, that many give up. It takes a lot of courage to turn the life around - they have struggled to find permanent work, they have been asked for help to social services. Unfortunately many of them have been in the situation for so long, that in the end they do not see a way out, where they can have opportunities and life they wish for.
Those homeless people suffer high levels of stress from their lack of control over their housing situation, combined with high levels of poverty and poor living conditions. They often also feel very isolated, especially when temporary accommodation is provided at a distance from the household's local community and friends. Most of all they miss their families and children they had been separated from. It is a very traumatic experience that is hard to escape from, damaging physical and emotional well being along the way.
Thankfully to non-profit organization, called Meeting point, many people in need can survive, as their social benefit does not cover the daily expenses. Meeting point is the place where one can meet other people alike. It is a place where every visitor can feel himself or herself equal. There's some kind sanctuary, where they can socialize and build fellowship without obligation. Organization offers home made food, clothing and a place to relax, wash their clothes or sleep for a while. In addition they also organize community evenings, Christmas and Midsummer celebration, that makes to feel like being at home.
People I met at the Meeting point, admit that this place is necessary for their well being, that gives opportunity to meet other people and have food and clothing, of course. Many of them have been regular visitors through many years. Though those people have been carrying with them the distressing experiences they have suffered which led to their homelessness, drug and alcohol misuse, or mental health problems, they don not mind to share with me their life stories, which I feel thankful for.