There has been a shock increase in the number of Swedes found to be begging in Spain’s most popular tourist resorts.
The thought of beggars in Spanish tourism hotspots generally brings up images of African and eastern European migrants, but recent research has shown that a number of struggling Swedes can now be found begging for change on the streets, outside supermarkets and along the beaches of the Iberian country.
The Scandinavian country’s Faktum magazine, sold by the homeless in Sweden’s second city Gothenburg, released its most recent issue last Tuesday which looked in greater detail into the trend.
Magazine editor Aaron Israelson said the response to the research has been tremendous as it has raised an important issue concerning how Swedes view poor EU migrants. He explained that there has been plenty of debate in Sweden about Bulgarians and Romanians, but practically nothing about the Swedes who have resorted to begging in Spain to help themselves get by.
Israelson said that the first time he saw a Swedish beggar was in Fuengirola a few years ago. He revealed that there are also a number of Swedish beggars in Germany and the UK.
The magazine also sent a reporter to Tenerife, Mallorca and Gran Canaria to talk to Swedes living in poverty and members of the Swedish church living in these areas. Stefan Kamensky, a Swedish church member in Tenerife, said there are around 20 homeless Swedes sleeping on the beach and around a hundred others classed as social outcasts.
Faktum explained that many of these homeless Swedes had psychiatric conditions or were substance abusers, and had spent their benefits on a flight to a country where the political view on drugs is more liberal and alcohol is cheaper.
Israelson said the aim of the article was to create further discussion about beggars back home. He noted that he wanted it to make Swedes think in greater detail about the issue and realise that it affects their countrymen as well as Romanians and citizens of other countries.