That’s why Fritidsgården Holken's Börje Brandt, newcomer support group, Expats & Friends, and Welcome House Skellefteå, the municipality project, have teamed up to organise fortnightly Saturday meet-ups for newcomers (and curious Swedes!) at the Holken youth club in Kåge School. Newcomers and locals from all over the municipality are welcome.
On the Saturday Norran English visited, there were around 15 people in the youth club chatting, drinking coffee, playing board games and potting balls (occasionally!) on the pool table. There were also several kids elsewhere in the building playing floorball and football.
– People are social beings, not just workers, says Cristina Lindberg Ghimpu, of the Expats & Friends association (EFA).
– We thrive in communities and newcomers need opportunities to create a network around them. When Börje suggested we could use the youth club, we were really keen to help start something for all the newcomers in the area. It’s always hard for us to find good social spaces to meet.
Börje, a jovial presence in the midst of the relaxed gathering, is a natural social facilitator.
– People need human interaction, especially when you’ve just moved to a new area, never mind a new country. We’re glad to help, says Börje.
Two of the newcomers present at the gathering were Olivia Nagy from Hungary and Julie Krausová from the Czech Republic. They have both recently moved to Kåge for their husbands' respective jobs at Northvolt and now live almost next door to each other in the new apartments at Kvarnbacken.
– My husband and I love living here and want to stay, but we would like to buy a house, so we can grow vegetables. The nature is wonderful here, and it's great to be able to be outdoors a lot, says Oliva, who has lived in Kåge since May.
– I like that it is calm in Kåge: it feels small but is still quite big. And the surrounding nature is perfect when you have a dog, says Julie, who moved here with her husband in September.
What do you think of Kåge Saturdays?
–They’re perfect. You get the chance to meet others who live nearby and who you can get to know. It's hard when you arrive in a totally new country as a newcomer and don't know anyone. I'd like to get to know more Swedes too, and be part of Swedish society, says Julie.
Is it difficult to get to know Swedes?
– No, I wouldn't say that. I think many are helpful and open. When you ask someone for assistance at ICA, for example, someone is always happy to help, says Oliva.
– We were even invited to coffee by some Swedish neighbours we met when we were on a forest walk. That was great, says Julie.
Cristina from EFA is optimistic that Kåge Saturdays will be a hit.
– We hope that hanging out at the youth club will provide an opportunity to be sociable, creative and exchange ideas with other newcomers, but also with Swedes in the neighborhood.
– I think this group will grow organically, with ideas for additional activities being generated from within. We’ve already tasted some great baking, Cristina says smiling.
Kåge Saturdays will be at Holken's youth center in Kågeskolan on November 4, November 18, December 2, and December 16, from 11:30 am to 4:00 pm.