Uppsala, the fourth largest city in Sweden, lies 70 kilometers north west of Stockholm and boasts Sweden's largest cathedral, completed and inaugurated in 1435; a castle, built by by the 16th century monarch Gustav Vasa; and a Viking-peppered history stretching back to the 6th century. While accommodation in the local youth 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 somewhere to stay for free. If this is the case you may find a chance for somewhere to stay at 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 element of the Christian Church, the Sagahemmet is open to everyone. They offer a place of worship where church services are conducted for any that choose to attend, but attendance is entirely voluntary.
If you come from somewhere 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 further accommodation for long-term residents. Staying is free, and you 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 they will wash them for you during the night. You get to sleep in a three-bed room, of which there are four. Rooms sleep only single sex, so women get to sleep with only other women, and vice versa.
Getting Along with other Residents
The only negative aspect of staying at Sagahemmet is your co-guests. The Frälsningsarmén offer an on-going recovery programme for people with addiction problems actively seeking to recover. The regular inhabitants will, therefore, normally consist of drug users, drunks or people with psychological disorders - in some instances, all three.
While residents are checked for drugs and alcohol on coming into 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 on a regular basis to monitor their narcotics usage.
If you want to spend a night at the Sagahemmet, you should be sure not to 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 Youth Hostel. However, if you genuinely have no money, the day is a cold one, and you don't fancy your chances of a one night stand with a stranger, maybe the Saga home is the only place to go.