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Lets talk about the problems – personal statements

Decision-making process„Unclear decision-making process“
safety„Disregard of any ID-checks in the beginning“
Mental health„Disregard of mental health, especially for translators“
Information„Lack of reliable information“
safety„Lack of police at the start“
Response„Little physical room for the arriving refugees at the central bus station“
Information„Chaotic and overwhelming flow of information“
Organisational „Parallel structures created during the initial time“
Information„On the ground structures didn’t perfectly reflect what was going on in the chats“
Official structures„The state being unhelpful and overwhelmed“
Official structures„The state not being able to take over in due time“
Organisational „At first, overwhelming numbers of volunteers / donations“
Internal„Internal conflict between coordinators“
Information„Lack of concrete and ambiguous information to give out at our information desk“
Information„Management of changing information and of rumours/informal statements“
Information„An extremely chaotic and heated coordinator telegram chat channel“
Organisational „The vest system was an easy target for committees looking to make work, or for people looking to redesign the system“
Organisational „Unclarity about resources available to BAS“
Food „In recent times, it has been a continued battle for me to persuade volunteers to not give out dated fresh food to refugees, because we do not at present have (in my opinion) the ability to do so hygienically“.
Mental health„I think that many of our coordinator level volunteers took on too much, and fought battles they could not possibly win, resulting in burnout. This partly arises from initially not having much experience in volunteer and relief work management in the coordinator team at the start.“
Internal „The coordinator team was packed with conflict and strong personalities and minimal leadership structure. Mostly people just rage-quit over time until we had a core group which doesn’t fight so much“
Mental health„burnout“
External„There were a lot of refugees arriving and sometimes it was hard to manage people hoarding supplies“
Response„Lack of translators“
External„frequent returners taking the same items everyday, and a huge drop in donations meaning we couldn’t stay stocked“
Internal „Differing opinions of how things should be done between team leaders who worked
closely together. Sometimes someone would just have to step in and enforce a decision which wasn’t ideal but in the end these situations that I encountered were not over anything life-changing.“
Mental health„It was clear when very regular team members would disappear. I don’t think the team handled it as such. I think it’s fine for people to keep their mental health private, but maybe it could have been nice for the team to discuss what was happening.“
Mental health„(A lack of) structured group support. It could have been nice to talk about what we were seeing in a group setting“
Information„Lack of or unclear legal informations, especially for non-ukrainian refugees from ukraine (students/workers).“
Human trafficking„Human trafficking“
Discrimination„Racism, sexism were not checked, reported or seen, in general underreported which at times led to more difficulties for refugees.“
Decision-making process„I don’t remember volunteers picking who their coordinators should be.“
Decision-making process„I have no recollection of translators being ever consulted“
Data safety „The database was lost several times“
Mental health„People overworking“
Decision-making process„From a non-german speaking volunteer pov, virtually all decisions were made by coordinators and none by volunteers, though inside of the translation team there would be unofficial rules.“
Food Also on fresh food, the date would be noted on the pack, though for hot food made in batch (soup, salads) it could be forgotten, or not transmitted to the new volunteers coming in and in such cases, once the volunteers realized this they would most often taste or throw away the food.
decision-making processVolunteers not organizing themselves enough to make their voice heard to coordinators. Coordinators (main and non) not consulting volunteers enough, especially translators
InternalNot enough dialogue between ukr/ru speakers and non ukr/ru speakers, both sides were for most of the time very isolated and sometimes at odds. → internal conflicts
Too little pressure on the senate
Safetysome safety measures were very late or poorly implemented: for example, a ukrainian women through a group on fb/viber/telegram… finds someone who will take her from Berlin to X: only after three or more weeks would we ask that person to give their ID to the check in table but there would be no check up and as far as I know that list wasn’t communicated to the police.
Data safety „After some point for the first check in (or everytime the database was «lost») volunteers would have to provide their ID to the check in table and their ID number and nationality would be written which was a huge safety concern as some people were russian nationals or people from dictatures with strong ties to the russian regime. Nothing was made to address their concerns.“
Safety„When someone would show animosity/promiscuity towards refugees or other volunteers they would usually be shown the door but not always depending on the people dealing with the situation.“
Mental health„Unfortunately at first psychological help was mostly absent and volunteers weren’t pushed to it. At first there were also more than enough translators (they could even be refused and told to try and come at such or such time) yet no effort was made to tell translators to take off days during the week. Some would come everyday. Overall, emotional challenges weren’t handled though they were spoken of amongst most translators.“
Mental health„Mental overload for the volunteers (translators and the housing team especially)“
Mental health„for translators) hard to cope mentally (cancer patients, kids especially); the job to stay calm and take all the input without having an “output” was hard because you couldn’t burden your friends with it; the best solution would have been a mental health coordination for the volunteers on site as well (a cooperation with Berliner Krisendienst)“
decision-making process„There was no communication about that with volunteers that came regularly, but not on a daily basis. The more often someone came and the longer their shifts were, the more likely was the chance that the get into this “inner circle”. It didn’t feel like it was decided on your competence if you become a coordinator, you just needed to be with the right people somehow.“
Data safety „In the beginning, you needed to show your ID to register, but the problem was the data base (an excel file) got “lost” several times. I still don’t know what happened: If the file was deleted or what it meant that all of our personal information that was saved up there was “lost”.“
Decision-making process„It always felt like ZOB was under BAS‘ patronage, but somehow people felt like ZOB was the black sheep of BAS. It was not until I was added to the Orga-Team-group on telegram some time around April/May?, that started the communication with the other satellite stations. The coordinators before me “stashed” their know-how, their knowledge that they had from BAS, and never shared it with anyone else, be it other coordinators or translators who were not in that chat group. It felt very undemocratic to me.“
Mental health„The communication about mental issues didn’t really take place among the volunteers, everyone was kind of a “loner” when it came to communicating their own struggles after working on severe cases.“
Decision-making process„Within the volunteer structures: As I said, becoming a coordinator was a random matter. You just needed to be within the “close circle”. Also being the representative of ZOB volunteers and attending the meetings was randomly based to me. The transparency was lacking. I understand that it’s difficult to organise that kind of democratic vote, but we had a translators chat (100+ people) where we could have
voted and so on.“
Discrimination„There were many cases of discrimination among the volunteers towards minorities.“
Discrimination„There were cases of bullying among translators, cases of sexism, antiziganism and racism. There were talks about it within the team (single people), but there was never a team solidarity on that matter.“
Mental health„To me, it felt like 80, then 90% of the volunteers had a burnout within the first few weeks. By the beginning of April there were just a few volunteers (translators) left.“