The debate on how to cope with immigration is heated and complex. Based in Germany, a country which takes more refugees than anywhere else in Europe and where violent attacks on refugees have also risen dramatically, Refugees Welcome offers a direct way to help refugees in your area. The web-based platform matches people willing to share their home with refugees in need of accommodation.
Set up in November 2014, Refugees Welcome has so far found places for 122 refugees, from Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Senegal, Somalia and Syria. Some have just arrived in Germany, while others have been in the country longer and hope to someday be granted ‘leave to remain’. In towns and cities across Germany 780 people have signed up to share their home, from carpenters and PR consultants, to students and retirees – families, single-parents, couples and individuals, aged from 21 to 65 years.
The project works with refugee organisations to place someone in a homeshare, and also finds ways to cover the costs. Around one third of rents are covered by social welfare, some by the homeowner themselves, and around one quarter is paid for via micro-crowdsourced donations. In order to offer more stability the organisation sets the minimum homeshare period at three months. But if it’s working well, there’s no time limit to how long someone can stay.
A new study shows that a quarter of all Germans would be willing to follow suit and open their doors to refugees. Prepared to brave criticism and reject xenophobic attitudes, ordinary people are stepping in where their government refuses to act. The project is now active in Austria and has plans to expand its work to cover cities and towns in Greece, Portugal and Scotland.
Mareike Geiling, Project Initiator