Church of Sweden Uppsala

DRW cooperation meeting with Svenska kyrkan

The 4th of June, DRW visited the Church of Sweden in Uppsala

Jamie Bolling and Ntobuah Julius met with Katarina Ottosson, Elna Wahlgren Lundqvist and Ingemari Olofsdottor who all work for the Church of Sweden at the national level.

The DRW project was presented with its current results and then Elna Wahlgren Lundqvist spoke about how the Church of Sweden is working with the refugees. The Church of Sweden has  6.1 million members and is open to everyone living in Sweden regardless of nationality and religion. The Church of Sweden is a place for church services, meetings and dialogue. There are about 3 500 churches in Sweden, and 13 dioceses. The international commitment started with the Church of Sweden Mission formed in 1874.

Church of Sweden Aid started as the local branch of the Lutheran World Relief in 1947. Today, the international work is fully integrated in the Church and are co-branding with the ACT Alliance. The identity as a church forms the basis of the international commitment. Collaborating and cooperating with other churches and organizations is at the core of the Church of Sweden’s international mission. As a church, it is part of the worldwide community of churches. By working with local organizations and churches, it is better able to contribute to long-term sustainable development in the context in which the partner organizations operate. After Elna finished her presentation Katarina Ottosson heading the Immigration department of the Church of Sweden, presented the work with asylum seekers and refugees, especially unaccompanied minors (https://www.svenskakyrkan.se/migration).

The Church of Sweden’s work with asylum seekers and refugees is as followed:

  1. Offering of free language cafes and open meeting places to asylum seekers and refugees in Sweden.
  2. Donation of free clothes, food bags and hygiene items such as diapers, shampoos and soaps to asylum seekers and refugees in Sweden.
  3. Giving community information, talking about how Sweden works, listening to people’s own stories.
  4. Contributing with expertise in, for example, education, health, law or social services.

Katarina Ottosson also said that the Church of Sweden has run many campaigns opposing the government policies toward refugees and asylum seekers. Two such campaigns are:

  1. Campaign against temporary restrictions on the possibility of obtaining a residence permit in Sweden.
    In June 2016, the Swedish Riksdag voted through a temporary law that limits the possibilities of obtaining a residence permit in Sweden. The law was to apply for three years, but now the government has proposed that it be extended for another two years.
    In the spring of 2016, the law was for the first time on a referral, and the Church of Sweden was one of the bodies that responded.
  2. Campaign for better conditions for unaccompanied minors.
    The situation of unaccompanied minors and young people who come to Sweden is greatly vulnerable. Uncertainty about how the future will look creates stress and ill-health. The Church of Sweden meets and supports this group in different ways. Katarina Ottosson said that they have not worked with newcomers coming to Sweden with disabilities but are open to work with DRW in that area.

The situation of unaccompanied minors and young people who come to Sweden is greatly vulnerable. Uncertainty about how the future will look creates stress and ill-health. The Church of Sweden meets and supports this group in different ways. Katarina Ottosson said that they have not worked with newcomers coming to Sweden with disabilities but are open to work with DRW in that area.

Ntobuah Julius told his experience of coming to Sweden as a disabled refugee focusing on the inaccessibility he encountered in the refugee camps in Sweden.

Cooperation between DRW and the Swedish Church was discussed and it was found that there could be cooperation in the following areas:

  1. Spreading information about the DRW project.
    By distributing DRW brochures and flyers to newcomers with disability that are met in the Swedish Church activities and on the web.
  2. Spreading the DRW Information Handbook.
    Katarina Ottosson agreed to spread the DRW handbook through their digital platform.
  3. The Church of Sweden could together with DRW organise events.

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