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Press Release: Graduates return from Sweden with lessons learnt

September 29, 2010

“Graduates’ documentary concludes: To tackle inequality, the UK must go its own way”

29th September 2010. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Two graduates have returned from an 1100 mile cycling adventure around Sweden, having found out what life is like in a more equal country. Their interviews touched on many important issues for UK society as we head into a period of budget cuts and a proposed “Big Society”, the role of individuals, trust and community, and gender equality.

Fourteen interviews and video diaries can still be found at In a few months time a short documentary film, exploring the lessons the UK can learn from Sweden, will be released and shown at University campuses and film festivals across the country.

Steven Bland, a recent graduate of Forum for the Future’s master’s programme in Leadership for Sustainable Development, and Shi Hacon Bickerton, a law school graduate, interviewed academics, politicians and ‘ordinary people’ to get under the skin of social equality.

Steven comments: “I was really impressed by the Swedes underlying belief in a responsibility to ensure everyone has equality of opportunity. Two out of three Swedes trust each other, where as only 1 out of 3 Brits do: seeing this trust in action in the form of low fences, unlocked doors, and a more relaxed attitude to the state, was incredible.”

The interviews revealed, however, a culturally-embedded attitude towards equality that would be difficult to copy in the UK. And the UK may also need to use different methods to tackle inequality:

“Sweden has maintained relatively high levels of income equality through a large tax base and a redistributive welfare state. The big question is: is it feasible for the UK to do the same? Or will another route need to be found to create popular enthusiasm for reducing inequality?”  Shi Hacon added.

Those interested in keeping informed of the film’s release are encouraged to sign up to receive infrequent updates at



  • Steven Bland and Shi Hacon Bickerton are available for interview, please use contact details below.
  • The trip was inspired by a new book called the Spirit Level. The book suggests a statistically proven relationship between a whole range of social ills (for example crime, ill health, teenage pregnancies, and lack of trust) and levels of inequality within developed countries.
  • Steven and Hacon are not politically affiliated.


Steven Bland

3 Courtlands Drive

Home Telephone: 01923 247280

Mobile: 07706533418


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