Social Welfare in Focus
Sweden enjoys a reputation of being one of the richest countries worldwide, with a smoothly functioning welfare and health care system.
And even though conditions are not quite as idyllic as sometimes portrayed, the country's social net is rather close-meshed.
But even in this society with its high standard of security there are those who live their lives on the brink of failure and disaster - yes, even Sweden has its poor people, its homeless, and its social outsiders who just will not fit into the pattern of care and providing.
One of the main obstacles in dealing with this problem seems to be the difficult task of getting these people on the edge of society to actively participate in the efforts to help them. So ways had to be found to establish contacts with those who have turned their backs on political institutions.
A number of Swedish NGO's are engaged in nationwide projects to reach out to problem groups in society, and their activities are coordinated by the Forum for Voluntary Social Work, founded in 1993.
At a recent seminar in Stockholm members of different NGO's discussed ways to improve their work. They also talked about the article of the Lisbon Treaty that deals with the so-called Open Method of Coordination - the task of streamlining social work within the European Union.
One of the speakers was Sweden's Minister for Public Health and Elderly Care, Maria Larsson, who emphasized the role that the country's non-governmental organizations play in the process of integrating social outsiders into the welfare system.