Ulrika Börjesson co-author to article in a migration-edition of the European Journal of Social Work

Ulrika Börjesson

The article The concept of home – unaccompanied youths voices and experiences written by Ulrika Börjesson, assistant professor at the Department of Social Work, the School of Health and Welfare, Jönköping University and Åsa Söderqvist Forkby, assistant professor at the Institution of Social Work, Linneaus University was published online by the European Journal of Social Work in mid-January. The article will also be published in the printed version of the journal, in a special edition about migration.

The article aims to critically discuss the concept of home, based on the experiences of youths. The material which is the base of the article was gathered from nine different focus-group interviews conducted between 2016-2018. This was in the aftermath of the, from a migration point of view, very turbulent year of 2015. That year over 35 000 unaccompanied youths arrived in Sweden.

- What Åsa and I found in the analysis of these focus-groups was that it could sometimes be seen as provocative for the boys which we interviewed, that the staff at the HVB-home (Home for care and living, in Swedish, Hem för vård och boende) highlights that the HVB-home is a home, rather than a living facility, says Ulrika Börjesson.

Åsa Söderqvist Forkby

In several of the focus-group interviews it became clear that it was a quite problematic way to look at the HVB-home, as an HVB-home is not quite in line with what usually defines a home.

- The boys interviewed brought different experiences and traditions. It is revealed in the article that some of the interviewed boys weren’t allowed to offer their friends tea when they brought guests to their HVB-home. That hospitality is something that they meant would have been a given if they had been in their own homes, says Ulrika Börjesson.

What Ulrika Börjesson and Åsa Söderqvist Forkby wants to emphasize is that the results show that the optimal conditions might not exist and that it is hard to define a right or wrong way to handle the home versus living facility. It is instead important that the staff becomes aware of the fact that this can be an issue for the persons living there and that the concept of home falls differently with different people.

- I think that one should think about why it is important to call it a home and what that can mean to the people who live in an HVB-home if the term is used. It is important for the staff to understand that when someone calls a HVB-home a home, it can sometimes make the persons living there feel as if it rather highlights the lack of home-like things. One example could be able to go to the kitchen and make a sandwich whenever during a 24-hour span, which in some cases weren’t allowed. When you have grown up in an environment without war, you usually have a positive view of the word home. What we discuss in the article is that it is important to know that this is not the situation for everyone, says Ulrika Börjesson.

By making the staff aware of how this can be an issue, the approach can also change. The material in the article has already been used as a means of discussion during staff-meetings at an HVB-home.