Uppsala, the fourth largest city in Sweden, lies 70 kilometres north-west of Stockholm and boasts Sweden's largest cathedral, completed and inaugurated in 1435; a castle, built by the 16th Century monarch Gustav Vasa; and a Viking-peppered history stretching back as far as the 6th Century. While accommodation in the local hostel and similar establishments comes as cheaply as 200 Swedish Kronor1, there may be the possibility that you have nothing to spare at all and need to stay somewhere for free. If this is the case, you should think about trying the Sagahemmet, or 'Saga Home'.
The Sagahemmet is a place where the homeless people of Uppsala can sleep and get hot food. It is run by the Swedish offshoot of the Salvation Army, called the Frälsningsarmén. The Sagahemmet has been helping people with 'social problems' since it was set up in Uppsala in 1966. While the Frälsningsarmén is an evangelical Christian movement, the Sagahemmet is open to everyone. Though they offer a place to worship, where church services are conducted for any that choose to attend, attendance is entirely voluntary.
If you come from outside Uppsala you can stay one night in one of the guest rooms. The Sagahemmet offers limited rooms for temporary residents as well as having accommodation for long-term residents. You can stay for free, and you'll get hot food, juice and coffee in the evening, and breakfast first thing in the morning. Beds are available purely on a first come, first served basis from 6.30pm, and you must get in before lock-up at 10.30pm (although chances are all the beds will have gone by then).
If you have clothes that need washing, the volunteers there will wash them for you during the night. You get to sleep in one of four three-bed rooms. All rooms are single-sex rooms, so women get to sleep in a room along with other women, and men get to sleep in a room along with other men.
Getting Along with Other Residents
The Frälsningsarmén offer an ongoing recovery programme for people with addiction problems actively seeking to recover. Therefore, among the regular inhabitants there will be drug users, drunks or people with psychological disorders - and in some instances, all three.
While residents are checked for drugs and alcohol on arrival at the Sagahemmet, you can be sure that some will manage to smuggle something on to the premises. Individuals seeking to be part of the recovery programme must consent to a urine test to be carried out on a regular basis to monitor their narcotics usage.
If you want to spend a night at the Sagahemmet, you should not draw undue attention to yourself. The regular residents often know each other very well, so they take a keen interest in newcomers and their reasons for being in the Sagahemmet. You should not avoid their questions because silence is far more likely to lead to offence and trouble. You are strongly advised to eat your food and go to bed as early as possible. Breakfast is available from 7.30am, so you should be prepared to get there early and get out straightaway.
The best advice you can get about staying at Sagahemmet is to avoid it if at all possible. If you can scrape together 200 Kronor, you would be advised to consider a hostel instead. However, if you genuinely have no money and the night's going to be a cold one, maybe the Saga home is the only place to go.