Don't give up - you have to fight!

A survey of resettled children and young people's experiences and need of information about their new life in Sweden

Landa is a county-wide project for the development of introduction and information activities for newly arrived refugees resettled in Gävleborg. These activities are largely aimed towards adults. The group of children and young people aged 7-18 years has not been prioritised in the introduction and establishment activities.

To improve the activities and developed an adapted introduction material for this group required increased knowledge on children/young people's experiences of reception and their need of introduction activities. Interviews have been conducted with 51 resettled children/young people, both individually and in focus groups. Here are some examples of questions posed and discussed:
• What did you know about Sweden before you came here?
• What information did you receive when you came here?
• Who told you this?
• What is important to tell someone who is moving from your home country to Sweden?
• How shall we tell this?

Approximately 60 per cent of the children/young people interviewed in the project have participated in one of the Swedish Migration Board's Sweden Programmes (Sverigeprogram), and approximately 40 per cent had, in the main, not received any information at all about Sweden prior to departure. All had received help and introduction on arrival. It is clear that the Sweden Programme makes a difference and, above all, the Sweden Programmes that have had local information and personnel at the information session.

School, the language, climate and that you have to fight and work hard were issues that almost all those interviewed in the project thought were the most important to provide information about to the children/young people who come here. The younger children thought that the most important things to be informed about were school, out-of-school activities and the climate. The older ones felt that problems arising in the family after arrival, loneliness and the difficulty of gaining a good education were the most important. These are some of the things they said:
“You have to fight – Don't give up!”
“It is very important to learn the language as fast as possible”
“Tell me about the climate and seasons – that they go round”
“Tell me a lot about schools – that without an education, it is very difficult to get a job in Sweden”

In the interviews, it emerged that it is important to talk about things that create security. To produce pictures and films for children/young people and to let young people who “have made the journey” be involved in the introduction work were some pieces of advice the project received. The survey shows that the children/young people are in need of quick integration into Swedish society. A good start and introduction can be crucial for newly arrived children/young people moving to a new country. Spending time and resources on a good start is a sound investment both for society and for the individual.

At the same time as Sweden will need to receive significantly more refugees in the future, the municipalities, through the new establishment reform, have reduced resources for refugee reception. Here, there is a lot to gain from coordination and quality assurance in a collaboration between the county's municipalities. There is a need for a mechanism to support and supervise personnel and provide them with relevant and updated information materials. Appoint a regional coordinator for the introduction work/refugee reception.