Well-being in a residential neighbourhood isn’t just defined by the quality of the residential units and buildings, but above all by a functioning sense of togetherness and a good neighbourhood spirit. We concentrate on activities where our core expertise can have an effective impact. That’s why we support many local associations and initiatives with financial resources, commercial spaces and expertise. This helps them have a hands-on impact on their neighbourhoods.
Support for those in need
The Covid-19 pandemic and associated restrictions on leaving home have seen a rise in cases of domestic violence against women. During the first wave, in Germany alone, the telephone helpline “Gewalt gegen Frauen” (“Violence against Women”) recorded an increase of 17.5% by late April 2020. This means creating more safe spaces for women became more and more crucial – as did raising public awareness of the issue.
To do this, a group of activists – including actress Natalia Wörner – came together in 2020 to create the #sicherheim campaign. #sicherheim (“safe home” in English) is an online platform aimed at raising awareness of violence against women through a high-profile campaign and the sicherheim.org website. The aim of the #sicherheim initiative is to raise awareness, provide information on support services and support relevant organisations. To break the silence, this complex issue was brought to a mainstream audience in a national media campaign.
Deutsche Wohnen lent its support to this campaign as an official partner, both financially and in collaboration with the women’s rights organisations involved. As part of the 2020 Deutsche Wohnen Tenant Survey, we also donated one euro for every questionnaire returned to the initiative. We will be doing this once again for the 2021 Tenant Survey.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown measures, families were forced to spend more time at home. Unfortunately, this saw a rise in domestic violence cases among children as well as adults. Another complicating factor is that children’s social and support networks at school and nursery have been hamstrung or eliminated entirely by closures or other pandemic-related restrictions.
Johannes-Wilhelm Rörig, Germany’s Independent Commissioner for Tackling Child Sex Abuse (UBSKM), hopes to combat this with the initiative Kein Kind alleine lassen (No child left alone). On the website www.kein-kind-alleine-lassen.de, children and young people will find help and advice services that they can access via chat, email and telephone. The website also offers tips and advice on what to do for children, young people and adults. Leaflets, posters and web banners are also available to download from the website. The UBSKM is calling for these to be distributed and disseminated.
Deutsche Wohnen is backing the appeal and displaying the campaign’s posters at its properties.
‘NeuRaum – Wohnen nach dem Frauenhaus’ helps women find their way back to independent living after a stay in a women’s refuge. Women who have lived in refuges for a long time in particular struggle to rent an apartment on their own and have to stay in emergency accommodation longer than necessary as a result. We are a key partner supporting the project from Caritas für das Erzbistum Berlin e. V. We provide residential units to help women get a new start within their own four walls.
The association hestia e. V. was founded in 1989 and provides assistance for women who are threatened and abused physically and mentally. Deutsche Wohnen has been working with hestia e. V. for several years and provides urgently needed accommodation for women affected by violence. Further information about the cooperation you may find here.
On 1 October 2018, Neue Chance gGmbH and the Berliner Stadtmission association began the model project ‘Housing First Berlin’, supported by the Berlin Senate Department for Integration, Labour and Social Affairs. The Sozialdienst katholischer Frauen e.V. carries out the project in cooperation with the Senate. Deutsche Wohnen has been working together with both social organizations since 2019 and provides apartments in this context.The Housing First concept has already been used to combat homelessness to great effect in numerous cities around the world since the early 1990s. Now, homeless people in Berlin can receive an apartment in a straightforward process as part of the Housing First project. Yet the rental contract is just the first step. Social workers, home economists and people with experience of homelessness will then be on hand to help.
Deutsche Wohnen is one of the first property companies that has provided apartments for the Sozialdienst katholischer Frauen e.V., which are rented to homeless women. For this, Deutsche Wohnen was honored with an award in March 2019.
For many years, Loyal e. V. has been one of the most renowned points of contact for children and young people in the southern blocks of Kottbusser Tor in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district. The association primarily offers space for young people for whom our school and education system poses a particular challenge, or for those who are at risk of social exclusion. Relevant services are on offer for kids and young people in the neighbourhood. These include, for instance, the Mädchenladen, aimed at girls aged between eight and sixteen. We have supported the work of Loyal e. V. by providing financial resources and rent-free commercial space.
In Hanover – more specifically in Sahlkamp – we support NaDu-Kinderhaus’s project ‘Nützliches und Spielzeug reparieren und selber machen, leicht gemacht’ (repairing and making your own toys and useful things made easy). The aim is to teach children aged between six and twelve how to work with tools and materials such as wood, metal and plastic. Under supervision, but by themselves, children make useful objects such as nest boxes, kites or bows and arrows, or let their imagination take free rein as they design landscapes, machinery or buildings made from wood. We supported the work of NaDu-Kinderhaus, which was founded in 2002, with 10,000 euros and financing for a social worker’s project office.
In Berlin’s Spandau district, we use our DW fund to support local initiatives and associations in the neighbourhood with their projects for children and young people each year – and have done so since back in 2014. As one of the biggest letting companies in Spandau and Falkenhagener Feld, we would like to support ongoing neighbourhood development locally, particularly as many families live there.
The association KIDS & CO is involved in a variety of activities for young people in the Berlin district of Marzahn-Hellersdorf. We support the association’s work as its innovative projects create positive incentives for togetherness in Deutsche Wohnen’s neighbourhoods. These have included extraordinary campaigns for strengthening communities such as the world record project to build the longest picnic table in the world on Hellersdorf’s Kastanienallee and setting up the parent and child cafe KastanienNest. The cafe offers young people with social issues the opportunity to help find career direction. With support from trained educators and professional training partners, young adults – particularly single mothers and fathers – gradually develop confidence in their professional skills. We support the association’s work with 5,000 euros each year.
Lesewelt, an association founded in 2000, has tasked itself with bringing children closer to the world of books and inspiring in them a love of reading. The association’s aim of bringing children with disadvantages when it comes to education to regular reading adventure events, assisted by voluntary helpers, properly paid off. Regularly reading aloud helps children with language acquisition, makes it easier for them to learn to read at school and thereby increases their chances of a successful education. Reading aloud also promotes patience, stamina and concentration. Since 2017 we have been supporting Lesewelt reading hours in seven Berlin libraries in selected Deutsche Wohnen neighbourhoods and, since 2018, we have also been supporting goody bag campaigns for those starting school.