Halle (Saale)“Welcome Treff” – Support and social interaction for refugees and locals
What is inspiring?
When Halle’s administration refused to open a welcome centre that had been proposed by the city council, a civil society initiative took over and opened a meeting space for refugees and locals. Today, the café is still a popular meeting point and offers different support services, from learning and speaking German, to filling out official forms and applying for a job. It offers help in learning and practising German, in filling out forms for authorities, or applying for jobs. It is open longer on some days, and offers opportunities for social encounters through games or sports. It is jointly run by the Freiwilligen-Agentur Halle-Saalkreis e.V. and the city of Halle.
How does it operate?
Established in December 2015, the initiative is a meeting space for refugees and locals. The “Welcome Treff” offers the service of volunteers as personal guides who offer support to refugees in the form of initial information and orientation, advice and translation. They also help with everyday appointments, visits to authorities and doctors, the search for language courses, or with registering children in kindergarten or school. A series of evening events called “Society and Integration” offers free educational opportunities on various topics.
What is the outcome?
Over the last few years, several inclusion initiatives, such as a women’s café and the local Solidarity City group, have met at the “Welcome Treff”, making it a hub for anti-racist civil society in Halle. In 2020, the “Welcome Treff” received the German Neighbourhood Award. The jury found that the “‘Welcome Treff” sets an example for greater diversity and is an inspiration for other regions throughout Germany”.
Who initiated the project? How?
In September 2015, the city council commissioned the mayor to develop a proposal for a “Welcome Centre” for asylum seekers, refugees, EU citizens and international students. Its remit was that of a registration office, immigration office, housing agency and advice centre offering support on issues such as child care, school attendance, study opportunities, living expenses and getting foreign qualifications officially recognised. The proposal went through, but the mayor’s refusal to comply meant that the proposed project never materialised. But only a few months later, members of local civil society set up the “Welcome Treff”, and now offers much of what the originally proposed “Welcome Centre” would have done.