Breaking Winter Blues: Luleå’s ‘Say Hello’ Campaign Sparks Connection in the Cold

"Säg hej" campaign Luleå

Many residents of the Swedish town of Luleå struggle with loneliness. Earlier this month, a campaign was launched calling on everyone to simply say "Hello" to each other on the street.

A survey in Luleå shows that 45% of young people aged between 16 and 29 experience loneliness. Small daily interactions such as shopping are gradually being replaced by technological innovations, resulting in fewer small conversations with strangers. Moreover, winter causes people to withdraw from social gatherings and feelings of loneliness become especially noticeable during these months, when the cold and dark can take a toll on one’s mental health. As you can imagine, many people struggle with winter depression during the darkest months, with only 3 hours of sunlight a day.

The Swedish town of Luleå. Photo Laszlo Wallner

The “Säg hej” campaign asks Luleå residents to do a very simple act: say “Hello” to strangers and acquaintances you meet on the street, with the aim of reducing loneliness and encouraging people to interact more. The initiative is led by Åsa Koski who works at the municipality. She sees rapid growth for the city, especially with rising employment, and wants this growth to be in line with the openness and friendliness the city already offers.

"Säg hej" campaign Luleå
Photo Luleå Kommun

The campaign asks Luleå residents to do a very simple act: always say “Hello” to people on the street

The campaign, which will last a month, can be seen all over Luleå. Advertisements on line buses, posters in municipal buildings and workshops in schools, are constantly reminding residents of the Swedish town that they can simply say “Hello” to another person and thereby make someone’s day.