German AGE member BAGSO has released a publication highlighting the important work done by senior volunteers in Germany to stem the arrival and integration of refugees. Linked to the developments of the Syrian and Irakian civil war, and renewed violence in conflicts in Northern and Eastern Africa, Germany accounted for 1.1 million refugees arriving in 2015. This poses very concrete challenges to local communities on their integration – and senior citizens are mobilising to meet these challenges.
Franz Müntefering, the president of BAGSO, states in the introduction to the publication: ‘As a child, I have known this situation: people who can only carry the most necessary items with them hit the road and are grateful for anyone offering food, an open door or any other support. Maybe this is the reason, why so many older people commit themselves actively for refugees in their own neighbourhood.’ Older people are important helpers in for the refugees, as they are more flexible in the time the can offer and solve problems with the necessary pragmatism. They also have an influence on younger volunteers and those who are more critical towards the influx of refugees.
The publication highlights examples of voluntary help that senior citizens and older people’s organisation offer:
- AWO Düsseldorf offers first orientation and material support in the train station
- The German catholic women’s federation are selling self-made products to finance an institution caring for unaccompanied children
- The Seniors’ office in Leipzig show asylum-seekers around local facilities such as playgrounds
- The GeyserHaus in Leipzig offers music lessons, playing activities and German classes
Many other initiatives run by senior volunteers are highlighted in BAGSO’s publication.
Download BAGSO publication here: Ältere Menschen engagieren sich für Flüchtlinge, Themenheft Nr. 46, 2016 (in German)