Church of Sweden
The first response of civil society during the pandemic in Sweden was to adapt its activities to the new restrictions introduced to limit risks to people.
The Swedish Civil Contingency Agency and Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, together with the Church of Sweden, the Red Cross, Save the Children, the City Missions and the National Sports Federation, recently signed a cooperation agreement to ensure services and psychosocial support across Sweden to elderly people isolating due to Covid-19.
We also highlighted the risk of increased mental health issues, anxiety and even suicide caused by financial stress, fear of unemployment and isolation. This has meant finding new ways to reach and expand support services. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sweden, the largest civil society organisation in the country with close to six million members, reaches people across the country daily with various support services. In response to the current situation it has increased its support services, such as its 112 call lines, and offers help by telephone, chat and e-mail in various languages. Demand for these services has doubled. The church has also expanded its pastoral support to offer alternative social contacts to prevent distress and anxiety. In addition to supporting the elderly and at-risk groups, civil society is assisting groups that face further marginalisation during the pandemic, such as asylum-seekers, migrants, unaccompanied minors and migrants from within the EU. These groups face additional issues during the pandemic such as lack of information and in some cases limited access to care services. The focus here is on information and ensuring that care and social support include these groups.
We will continue to monitor progress. One positive effect we are seeing is the emergence of initiatives for partnerships and cooperation between sectors, which will remain after the crisis.