- How can we improve it for refugees and immigrants?
What promotes and what hampers it?
Spännar, TFF co-founder & Project
July 31, 2006
A common project conducted by the
municipality of Eslöv - a small town in Southern
Sweden - Eslöv Apartments Inc., the Police in
Eslöv, the Swedish Church, the Social Insurance
Office, the Transnational Foundation (TFF), ERF - The
European Refugee Fund (through the Swedish Integration
Board and the Swedish Migration Board).
Project director: Christina
Spännar from TFF.
The aim is to develop a model that
can help mitigate the integration process for refugees,
asylum seekers and other immigrants who knock on the door
to Eslöv. The model shall be developed through
partners in a network, i.e. an information and
communication structure. On the one hand, there are the
actors and authorities who receive the immigrants in a
variety of functions; on the other, we will work with
refugees who - through their experiences of the encounter
with Swedish society - are able to give us images of what
that encounter looks like from their side.
As an important part of the
project, we want to encourage refugees to write down, or
be interviewed about, their life stories and reflections.
These women and men should be selected in terms of ethnic
background, education, and age so they create a broad and
many-facetted image of the process, its problems as well
as joys. Similar thought and experiences will be drawn
out of the discussion groups we will establish with youth
Some of the intellectual
underpinnings of this project can be found in Christina
Spännar's doctoral dissertation in sociology from
2001, Med främmande baggage (With foreign
luggage) that deals with a series of project-relevant
issues. For more, see this TFF
About the first project phase of
this immigration project, Christina says:
My idea was to try to connect the
various actors who, in their work, meet the refugees and
other immigrants with people who have their own
experience of migration and integration. The purpose was
to get an image of the other side of that encounter.
Further, in order to learn more about how the encounter
with the Swedish society is experienced, I wanted -
through storytelling - to give a voice to about twenty
refugees and other immigrants.
Based on conversations,
reflections, discussions and seminars I drew the
conclusion that the following factors promote
- Trustful relations. The
trust and confidence in oneself and in others that human
beings are capable of is one of the great driving forces
of society. Curiosity and creativity is based on trust.
Confidence permits us to dare do things. It develops
through the interplay between us as human beings and
citizens on the one hand and the world around us on the
- Dialogue. Dialogue is
essential because it means mutuality and
- Integration platforms or 'warm
places' where people can meet and relations unfold.
It is places where you can do things together, not the
least things that do not require the spoken word - music,
song, theatre and art - but anyhow implies creating
- Acknowledgement of the general
human needs for self-esteem and for being part of a
community coupled with a sense of order and coherence,
with meaning, in one's life.
- The ability to see oneself
through the eyes of others.
- Awareness of the fact that
what is self-evident to me is not necessarily so to
- Continuity in initiatives
and activities since continuity helps create coherence.
- Flexibility - since it
permits us to take into consideration and care for the
particular individual's qualifications and
All these factors have their place
in the individual's perspective.
Likewise, I concluded that the
following factors hamper integration:
- The "we" and "them"
thinking. It implies a generalisation based on the
'foreign' origin of the other.
- Structures that have been
established to fit collectively generalizing views and
- Departmentalization - since it
impedes co-operation and synergy.
- Ignorance about the real
conditions in many of the countries from where the
refugees and other immigrants come to Sweden.
- Coercion and constraints - which
can only be experienced as humiliating. People who are
being coerced tend to offer resistance in one or more
ways. It is no more surprising than in the tale about how
the wind and the sun competed about who would first make
a man take off his coat
Apart from all the work on the
ground, seminars and discussions, these two publications
came out of the first phase:
a year in Eslöv. Integration - what promotes and
what hampers it?"
and wider context, participating authorities, the
project's development, a series of constructive
proposals, proposal of a model and ending with selected
conclusions and a postscript.
In Swedish only, pdf 504 KB, 104 pp, printed and in pdf
format, December 2005.
in foreign lands. Twenty stories."
It's tough to leave
everything behind, travel to a new country, encounter all
its differences and to, finally, get to feel at home in
the new country. This book gives voice to persons from
Palestine, former Yugoslavia, various countries in the
Middle East, Burundi, Hungary, former Soviet Union and
from Latin America; they tell us about the many steps on
that road and how they feel today and how they look back
In Swedish only, 4,9 MB; illustrated with the author's
photos from various countries. 96 pp, printed and in pdf
format; December 2005.
2: 2006 -
This phase is conducted in close
co-operation with TFF Associate Vibeke Bing. Vibeke is a
social worker, lecturer and author. Organizations
involved in addition to those in Phase 1: The Swedish
Association of Family Centres and The Foundation
"Allmänna Barnhuset" - The House of
It feels as if cold winds sweep
over Sweden, in the face of children and youth with roots
in foreign lands. The risk is that they will freeze in
their development instead of running happily into a safe
The purpose of this phase is to try
to implement some of the proposals that were presented by
the participants in the first phase. We also intend to
explore the qualifications and potentials of the Swedish
family centrals to promote integration in the
- The planned work builds on the
integration analysis and work that has been done in the
municipality of Eslov in Southern Sweden and, similarly,
in three family centrals in Malmö, another, larger
- Integration into the Swedish
society is a societal, inter-human and inter-cultural
process. One precondition for its success is mutually
trustful relations and respect, the main tool is
communication and the road to it must be paved by
knowledge and education and, thereby, a solid
understanding for the values and norms on both sides of
the encounter. This should counterbalance generalisations
and stereotypes as well as social border-creation and
open more doors to dialogue and mutual
- Human relations can be promoted
where integration platforms and "warm places" exist. They
offer safe physical spaces for meetings among people who
have their roots in different countries and cultures;
they provide opportunities for the development of
trustful relations through dialogue. Dialoguing implies
mutuality and active listening which, in turn, enhances
the ability to see oneself through the other. If so,
chances are that we all become more conscious of the fact
that what is self-evident to me is not necessarily the
same as what is self-evident to others.
- The creation of "warm places"
must take place with many involved parties from a variety
of social spheres, e.g. the municipalities, the region,
the churches, cultural institutions, formal education and
vocational training and the police. We shall try also to
identify and involve whatever forces which could be
helpful in improving the integration process but which
remain underutilized or hidden resources
At present - summer 2006 - we are
in the process of developing the grant application and
identify additional partners.
One first activity is a conference
with interested individuals and cooperation partners at
Sätra Bruk, August 28-30, 2006.
You can read more about Eslöv
And there is much more about the
project, its partner organization and all the individuals
who particpate in it at the TFF
Eslov Forum - but, alas,
only in Swedish!
free articles &
TFF & the author 2006
A project funded by the
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