Are you facing a similar challenge?
On this page we would like to give you an overview of the knowledge we have gained during this time. Additionally, we offer you tips on proven approaches to organization and communication, as well as useful contacts and reusable templates.
In order to be seen by others as a serious partner, a minimum level of professionalism is necessary. This includes, for example, agreeing on contact persons as a team who can be reached by external contacts via an official phonenumber. Other key points are:
- Fast and pragmatic decision making
- Try and adapt if necessary
- Contacting existing networks and organizations (e.g. associations, initiatives, churches) for coordination as well as referral of refugees to already existing help services.
- Find out important contact persons (e.g. at train stations, the station management, DB Security and the Federal Police).
If it takes longer…
A certain amount of chaos and stress is quite normal in the early days. Once you realize that your work is going to last longer, it’s worth putting more time into planning structures and processes to sustain engagement over time.
Even if it is obvious to orient oneself towards simple and lean structures, it is at least as important to incorporate the knowledge and wishes of the active volunteers.
Now, at the latest, it is also worthwhile to expand your own public relations and press work in order to bring your own demands to the public, e.g. appeals for donations.
Tips for you
- Never forget that your volunteer efforts always depend on you being well. This starts with drinking and sleeping enough and extends to talking to others about stressful situations.
- Realize that your success doesn’t depend on you alone. Just because no one else can take on important tasks right now doesn’t mean you have to do them.
- For the sake of your health, but also to have the space to reflect, it’s good to deliberately schedule a few days for rest after a few days of volunteering.
- In places where many people come together, it can lead to conflicts and problems. Consequently, being understanding and showing consideration is helpful. In the same way, you should dare to speak openly when you don’t like something, something bothers you, or you want to change something. Don’t just stand there and watch your own frustration grow.
Tips for groups
- Creates structures that are clear and transparent for all. More important than focussing on formal voting is to design the decision-making processes in such a way that the greatest possible consensus can be found within your group.
- For some topics or tasks, it makes sense to establish individual working groups and pass on responsibility for certain decisions to them. Not everything has to be decided as a group.
- Creates central points of contact for complaints and problems. An awareness group, chosen from within the group and preferably trained, can catch and resolve interpersonal conflicts before they become a burden on the group or individuals.
- Ask yourself in time how long you want to help and where the responsibility of state and social actors should begin. Your volunteer activities should not be exploited as cheap gap fillers.
Important organizations from Berlin
Deutsches Rotes Kreuz Berlin
Migrationsrat Berlin e.V.
030 – 61658755
Mingru Jipen e.V.
“Looking back, I realized that in the initial chaos I paid far too little attention to myself and my health. As a group, it helped us look out for each other and keep daily work hours to a maximum of 8 hours.”
Deutsche Stiftung für Engagement und Ehrenamt
“At first, a lot of things can get lost in the chaos or go wrong. That’s why it’s important to quickly network with existing initiatives in the field of refugee assistance to learn more about the legal framework so we can help even more effectively.”