Danish island’s offer of free apartment highlights campaign to strengthen communities

Danish island's offer of free apartment highlights campaign to strengthen communities
A file photo showing the Danish island of Endelave. Photo: Claus Fisker/Ritzau Scanpix
A project aims to support seven islands in Denmark through a wide range of projects, initiatives and workshops.

Seven islands spread across Denmark – Endelave, Anholt, Femø, Omø, Sejerø, Strynø and Aarø – are all part of the project Nye Naboer – mere øliv (‘New Neighbours, More Island Life’).

The project exists through a partnership between Danske småøer, an interest organisation for small islands in Denmark, and action group LAG småøerne.

In a press statement released earlier this week, residents on Endelave said that that they would offer a free apartment for up to three months, so that people more used to busy towns and cities can sample island life, broadcaster TV2 reported.

People who take up the offer will pay only for bills and cleaning costs associated with use of the apartment.

“How can you know what it’s like to live on an island if you haven’t tried it? I hope this scheme will give more people the fantastic experience of island life which we have had,” Ib Elgaard, a spokesperson for the initiative, said to TV2.

Elgaard added that a “couple from Aarhus” had already been in contact to register their interest in the Endelave apartment.

Endelave is not the only location in the project to try out offering short-term housing to potential new residents. But there is more to the scheme than the matter of accommodation, said Anja Bech Knudsen, a consultant with the Nye Naboer – mere øliv project.

Knudsen described the project as a “helping hand to island residents who are already making a huge effort” in their communities.

“This is, in general, about strengthening settlement. That means both accommodation and jobs – there must be work for people to do,” Knudsen told The Local.

“We also (for example) have a scheme with matchmaking, where we look at whether we can matchmake those who are looking to sell businesses with those who might want to run a business and move to the islands,” she explained.

Workshops, networking and promotional campaigns all figure in the project, which runs until 2020.

“(The project) is giving knowledge and sharing knowledge which feeds into many elements of what can strengthen settlement,” Knudsen said, citing themes such as housing, legislation and marketing and communication, which she said can help to give the islands a strong long-term, strategic outlook.

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