Monday, September 21, 2020
A recent article in The Guardian highlighted a housing experiment in Sweden that combats loneliness, 'It's like family': the Swedish housing experiment designed to cure loneliness. (If you don't have an account with The Guardian, you need to register, but there is no fee).
The project, known as Sällbo, is
[A] radical experiment in multigenerational living in Helsingborg, a small port city in southern Sweden. Its name is a portmanteau of the Swedish words for companionship (sällskap) and living (bo), and neatly encapsulates the project’s goals – to combat loneliness and promote social cohesion by giving residents incentives, and the spaces, for productive interaction.
Sällbo, which opened last November, consists of 51 apartments spread over four floors of a refurbished retirement home. More than half of the 72 residents are over 70s, like Ahlsten and Bacharach; the rest are aged 18-25. All were selected after an extensive interview process to ensure a mix of personalities, backgrounds, religions, and values, and all had to sign a contract promising to spend at least two hours a week socialising with their neighbours.
Not only was this project designed to combat isolation amongst Sweden's elders, it also was designed to respond to "the 2015 refugee crisis [which] meant organisations like Helsingsborgshem were under pressure to house growing numbers of people who were struggling to integrate with – and win acceptance from – Swedish society. So a plan was hatched to mix the two, with younger Swedish people acting “as a bridge." So far the reports of the project's success have been positive despite the hurdles of starting a new endeavor in these times (think COVID). Information about the services, costs, etc. are available here.
Thanks to my colleague and dear friend, Professor Bauer, for bringing this article to me.