Living space is an existential need for most people. The situation in Kiel is precarious, as the number of homeless people has increased steadily in recent years. According to the Kiel Social Report, the number of critical housing emergencies has now risen from 422 (2013) to over 1000. According to the stadt.mission.mensch, the proportion of women has increased from 17 (2014) to 28 per cent. The stadt.mission.mensch has addressed this problem and created a counselling centre for women in housing emergencies.
The women’s department of the homeless support service began its work in 1995 in a shop in Harmsstraße. Since 2008 it has been located at Damperhofstraße 12. The spaces in the inner patio of the building are colourfully decorated and give the impression that everyone is welcome here. The reasons for visiting the counselling centre are manifold: separation from the partner, experience of violence, problems in the family, psychological or physical illness, addiction and unemployment. Often several causes come together. In contrast to men, women often wait a long time before they seek help from the counselling centre, get by with interim solutions or find accommodation with friends. They attach great importance to the fact that their housing needs remain unnoticed. This can give the impression that the problem is less common among women than it is.
Professional Advice with Heart
The counselling usually starts by dealing with the acute crisis first to simply getting something to eat and a place to sleep. Then the next steps are discussed together with the affected person. Help with obtaining documents and dealing with the authorities is often the first step, because without the “paperwork” no assistance can be requested. In this case, the lack of an address is often the first hurdle, which is why Kiel residents without a permanent address can use the address of the counselling centre as their postal address. Further help is provided in almost all cases, whereby the priority is that everything happens at the request of the person concerned and nothing is done without their consent. Trust is a top priority here and all employees of the institution are bound by professional secrecy. The open consultation hours on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8.30 to 13.00 hours can be visited by anyone without an appointment.
On the ground floor of the Counselling Centre, the largely self-governing “empire” of women, the day meeting (Tagestreff) takes place simultaneously. Those who would not necessarily like to have counselling immediately, but instead prefer to just have a coffee first or get an impression by talking to the other women, can simply drop in here, also anonymously if desired.
The day-meeting offers a safe place to stay for mutual support and information. There is a kitchen, washing machine, writing corner, telephone and PC that can be used, as well as a crockery and clothes exchange, where everyone can take what they need.
Sunshine Comes after Rain as you Know Again
The employees are particularly concerned about social justice. They have made it their mission to accompany and support women on their way to more self-reliance. Each day brings new challenges. The “normal” working day does not exist here. And however big the crises may be, the more beautiful it is when they are overcome. Sometimes it is just great to get out of the daily routine and do something to take your mind off things. For this purpose, joint activities are planned, and attempts are made to make culture accessible to women who might otherwise not be able to afford it. One of the highlights was a visit to a musical in Hamburg, which had been facilitated by the support of generous donors.
The counselling centre is also always happy to receive small donations in kind such as dishes, clothes, pots or bed linen. Bus tickets are also always needed. So, everyone who wishes to, can contribute something for this important establishment, which is needed today more than ever, to continue to do its work.
Frauenberatungsstelle und Tagestreff
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Tel.:0431 / 26044 – 640
Fax: 0431 / 26044 – 649
Author / layout / illustrations / photos: Paul Langmaack