17 Jun 2024
What it takes to volunteer in Sweden: # 12
Volunteering Work & Money

What it takes to volunteer in Sweden: # 12

I recently attended a wonderful lunch provided by the Red Cross on Kungsholmen for its volunteers. The food was delicious and it was very satisfying to spend an hour and a half having interesting conversations in Swedish – in which I was able to take part and which I understood most of.

I’m also always impressed when organisations make a real effort to thank their volunteers and donors– whether that’s by throwing a party, sending a thank you note or, as in this case, offering us all lunch. It’s a relatively little thing, but it is nice to feel appreciated. It benefits the non-profit organisation too, as happy volunteers are more likely to continue volunteering.

For over a year now I have been helping out at the Red Cross shop on Polhemsgatan. I do one three-hour shift a week and during that time I talk only Swedish. I also listen a lot to other people talking Swedish (very fast!). I’ve met some really lovely people there, both Swedes and non-Swedes, and they have been so patient with my stumbling Swedish and general inability to answer customer question more complicated than ‘How much does this cost?’.

As well as helping me with my Swedish and to meet new people, it has also been good, in the absence of a job, to have regular things scheduled to do each week (I like having things in my diary, it makes me feel like I still have a life). It would have been so easy (especially when pregnant during the winter months) to stay at home where it’s cosy and warm, but it would have also have been lonely and there is the chance that I might have watched too much daytime TV and gone a little crazy.

It’s for these reasons (and many more) that I think volunteering is a good idea, and I can totally believe it when research shows that volunteering contributes to people having both better mental and physical health.

So I keep on working to get The English Volunteering Project off the ground. And I’m feeling gently optimistic. In five weeks there have been over 1440 hits on the FundedByMe fundraising page for the project and 21,340kr has been donated, and we have four more weeks to go. This means that if we raise another 18,160kr we will reach the 40,000kr goal, after which Internetfonden will provide the remaining 40,000kr – thus enabling us to raise the 80,000kr we need to get the project started.

And I’ve been having various meetings which could lead to interesting things for the project. But I’m trying not to get too excited about these unless something definite happens – it’s far too easy to get excited about something only to be disappointed when it doesn’t happen. So you’ll have to wait with me to find out what, if anything, happens next.


By Claire Thomas

[email protected]

Check back in a few weeks to hear more about Claire’s progress.

Claire Thomas was born in Hong Kong, grew up in Northern Ireland and has lived in Scotland, England, Germany and now Sweden (where she hopes to stay for a good long while). In this blog she shares her experience of setting up a project focused on helping non-Swedish speakers to find volunteering opportunities with non-profit organisations in Stockholm

If you are interested in the project you can contact Claire by email at [email protected]

To donate to the project go to http://fundedbyme.com/projects/2012/04/the-english-volunteering-project/

Like us on Facebook to follow the project’s progress – go to www.facebook.com/englishvolunteering.

The project is part of Volontärbyrån  www.volontarbyran.org

Your Living City loves to learn about our readers experiences & ideas and hear their stories. If you have something to say or want to share about your Swedish journey, send us a mail with a writing sample and we will get back to you shortly.


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