The European EHAP Project in Wuerzburg

The EHAP project of the Christophorus GmbH in Wuerzburg is happy to announce a successful interim result.

In his home country, Slovakia, Marek Caplovic (name changed) had no employment perspective. In April 2016 he decided to come to Würzburg, where an acquaintance lived, in search of work. Caplovic was able to live with his acquaintance for several weeks. “But it frequently came to tensions between the two men”, explains Sonja Schaefer, a member of the Christophorus GmbH’s EHAP team. Marek Caplovic had to leave his acquaintance’s flat, but he had no idea where he could sleep now.

For the last 17 years, the Catholic Caritas and the Evangelical-Lutheran Diakonie, the two major church-based charitable organizations in Germany, have bundled facilities and services for the assistance of the poor and disadvantaged in the Christophorus GmbH, where aid is offered for individuals in situations like that described above. Marek Caplovic’s acquaintance had already taken advantage of the services offered by the Christophorus GmbH and told his compatriot, “You can certainly get help there.” One day both men came to the Christophorus GmbH looking for help. “With the aid of a translator we tried to find out the situation Caplovic was in and how to help him“, says Sonja Schaefer.  

EHAP is an acronym meaning “European assistance fund for the severely underprivileged”. In Wuerzburg we have two aims: First, EHAP supports citizens of the European Union who have migrated from one EU country to another in order to make their integration easier and to prevent impoverishment. Second, EHAP is designed to help persons who are homeless or are threatened with the loss of their home.

Sonja Schaefer, a social worker, has belonged to the Christophorus EHAP team since January 2016.  In Wuerzburg, EHAP consists of four social workers who assist clients. To date, 160 men and women have sought EHAP assistance and were referred further. They were given information as to which facilities and services in Wuerzburg were best suited to helping them to solve their social problems. Their concerns were varied and ranged from migration consultation to daytime shelter or debtor counselling.

Marek Caplovic’s biggest problem was finding an apartment of his own. Sonja Schaefer supported him in his search. The 32-year-old Slovak, who now works for a cleaning company, had luck. With Sonja’s help, he soon found an inexpensive one-room flat. Marek Caplovic is a special EHAP case in that he actively approached the EHAP team for help. Normally Sonja Schaefer and her colleagues don’t wait for clients to come to them. “We practice outreach and try to find the people who need us”, she says.

Specifically, this happens in one of the three main EHAP bases: short-term overnight accommodation, the Railway Station Mission (Bahnhofsmission) and the daytime shelter (Waermestube). Recently the EHAP team dealt with a homeless person who appeared at the Railway Station Mission completely distraught. He had lost everything sleeping outdoors that night: all of his clothing, his ID card, his wallet – everything had disappeared with his backpack. Johannes Kopf, another member of the Wuerzburg EHAP team accompanied the man to city hall to get new identification papers. Afterwards, Kopf organized clothing and found a place where the man could stay for the next few days.

Most of the about 160 EHAP clients have been integrated successfully into the help system in Wuerzburg. In some cases it was not possible to   check whether clients really sought help at the institutions which were recommended to them. In several cases consultations are still in progress. The majority of EHAP clients would not have been able to stabilize their social situation entirely on their own, on the one hand because they did not know how the help system in Germany operates, on the other hand due to language problems preventing them from looking for support.

Guenther Purlein
fon +49 931 322 4141