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Everyone can borrow from the Fritidsbank

Almost like a lending library for sports and leisure equipment. This is how Fritidsbank has been described, an enterprise that encourages activity and re-use and is available in 90 locations around the country. As the enterprise grows, find out with RISE what makes a Fritidsbank work.

Skates for hire at Fritidsbanken

At the Fritidsbank in Upplands Väsby north of Stockholm, lending is in full swing. Scooters, roller skates, bicycles and football boots are checked out by enthusiastic children and adolescents who quickly leave to try their luck.

– Don’t forget to borrow protective equipment too, Hanna Broberg-Järild, location manager for this Fritidsbank, reminds them.

Hanna has worked at the Fritidsbank since August 2018, and its doors were opened in October of the same year. Despite the fact that the business has only been in operation for a little over six months, there is a sizeable collection of sports and leisure equipment to borrow; everything from golf clubs and Pilates balls to ice skates and parasleds.

– The only thing we don't have is a handball, says Hanna Broberg-Järild. And an American football, the last one exploded!

Started 2013

The Fritidsbank in Upplands Väsby is one of two in the Stockholm area, and today there are 90 banks around the country. The idea was hatched by Carina Haak, a deacon in Deje in Forshaga municipality in Värmland. In January 2013, she noted that not all children had the same opportunities to participate in school sports activities and thought it was “odd that it wasn’t possible to borrow equipment”. With this insight as her point of departure, the first Fritidsbank was started.

– We work like a lending library for sports and leisure equipment, says Henric Byström, brand and communications manager at Fritidsbanken. Anyone can come to us to borrow and it's always completely free. We make sure people get out into nature, get out and move!

Lender’s perspective is key

The equipment that the Fritidsbank loans out consists of gifts from private individuals or associations, but the enterprise is not driven exclusively by voluntary forces. The local Fritidsbank is run by a local authority, which may be a municipality, for example. The umbrella association of Fritidsbanks also requires there to be a local staff member, and premises where the activities are conducted are selected from a lender’s perspective.

– As new Fritidsbanks continually open, we learn new things. Previously, you might have started a Fritidsbank to carry out work placement and training and the premises might have ended up in a remote industrial area, says Henric Byström. We don’t accept this anymore. The bank must be accessible for the disabled, easy to get to and given enough space to function.

Before a Fritidsbank opens, it must be ensured there are at least 1000 items for lending. In addition, gifts flow into the Fritidsbank continuously. At the time of writing, there are about 150,000 articles for lending in stock. But, as was shown in Upplands Väsby, the quantity of equipment is not always sufficient.

– We had chaos last winter, says Hanna Broberg-Järild. We were completely out of both skates and skis. In February we had over 900 loans.

Together with RISE, the Fritidsbank will now evaluate and clarify the social benefits generated by the enterprise and define its success factors.

– We’ve been conducting interviews and visits to some of the Fritidsbanks, including the one in Upplands Väsby, says Haben Tekie, project manager at RISE. In addition, we’re carrying out a survey of all the Fritidsbanks, as well as the lenders and those who donate equipment. We ask questions about everything from cooperation with the municipality or other organizations to how work on collection and lending is performed, what is lent and how it’s used. We’ll be able to see the results of this work in the autumn.

A Fritidsbank in every Swedish municipality

Fritidsbank’s vision is to establish at least one operation in each Swedish municipality. The organization is currently in discussions with a hundred Swedish municipalities and the idea is that everyone will run the Fritidsbank in the same way.

– We describe the concept as a free of charge franchise, says Henric Byström. We believe that the objective of a Fritidsbank in all municipalities is quite reasonable. Our enterprise is very timely; we get people to move, something that’s good for both physical and mental health. It’s also good for the environment to encourage reuse of equipment.