Kids Welcome helps refugee children and adolescents in Hamburg’s refugee camps and shelters by offering them playing and integration programmes. We collect donations, buy arts and crafts supplies, and furnish the accommodation facilities with child-friendly, cosy areas – in existing rooms, in containers or in our own, donation-funded, winterproof tents. Here we look after the children and adolescents, 3-6 volunteers at a time, several times a week for three hours.
More than 8,000 refugee children and adolescents are currently living in Hamburg, most of them in camps and shelters. Within a short space of time, they have to learn a new language, a new “culture” and a new school system. Many of their parents are traumatized or preoccupied with the matter of their legal status, meaning that they cannot devote much attention to their children. Until now, the city and the operators of the camps and shelters have offered children little more than covering their basic needs. In this situation, we at Kids Welcome play a crucial role in the wellbeing of these children and adolescents. Our main aim is to give the refugee children time, attention and a sense of appreciation – in doing so, we are also making up for the acute deficits in the state-run care and support, and facilitating social inclusion.
The idea of being allowed to just “be children” is central to the playing sessions and outings we organize with refugee children. Beyond this, our mobile programmes bring fun and healthcare to the shelters themselves – with the travelling cinema “Moving Kids”, the children’s disco “Dancing Kids” and the dental care school “Shiny Teeth”. We have also developed a special programme for unaccompanied underage adolescents, a group of refugees that is often stigmatised by the general public, in which we find volunteer guardians and sponsors for them. In addition, we organize recreational programmes and training courses for adolescents living in Hamburg’s reception centres. In our most recent project, we are also serving as school mentors, both in the reception centres and in the international preparatory and elementary classes.
Kids Welcome is a network created by and for volunteers, which was set up in the summer of 2015 as a reception programme for children in Hamburg’s exhibition halls. Back then, 1,200 refugees were put up in Hamburg’s Karolinenviertel for 2 months.