Together for Refugees – Refugee Support Network Unterföhring

The Individual Teams and their Responsibilities

The “Helferkreis” is structured into various committees. At the moment there are nine committees, who try to find out which of the things each committee offers are the most useful to refugees and which can be put into practice.

As soon as a substantial group of refugees has moved into the emergency accommodation, these activities will be offered in close cooperation with the social workers at the site.

Two “pool teams” – the “Companion Pool” and the “Translation Pool” – provide helpers who will offer advice and assistance to individual refugees.

  • Management and Organization
  • Translation Pool
  • Companion Pool
  • Team Language Teaching and School
  • Team Culture and Leisure
  • Team Nursery and Childminding
  • Team Work and Accommodation
  • Team Donation and Maintenance
  • Team Helper Support
  • Team Sports
  • Team Health Care
  • Team Public Relations / Website / Events

Read more about the individual team descriptions:

Management and Organization

The overall management of the “Helferkreis” is in the hands of Susanne Skuballa and Thomas Weingärtner.

They guide the individual teams making sure that cooperation and communication between the teams runs smoothly and that everybody is heading in the same direction.

They also represent the “Helferkreis” in all dealings with the community of Unterföhring, with the “Landratsamt”, as well as with companies and private sponsors who actively contribute to refugee relief and support the “Helferkreis” in its endeavors to integrate refugees.

Translation Pool

The translation pool recruits people willing to support refugees with their knowledge of foreign languages.
They accompany refugees on visits to the authorities or to doctors surgeries, translate official information and, if necessary, support the social workers at the accommodation facilities when communication problems arise.

Up to now the team covers 17 foreign languages. Information material has been translated into Arabic and Kurdish, which is also used by other refugee relief organizations.

At the moment we are trying to enlist further support from the big companies based in Unterföhring. Members of the translation team do not necessarily have to become members of the “Helferkreis”.
The head of this team is Gloria Kotzor who taught translation at the University of Munich and has organized various translation projects.

Companion Pool

In direct contact with local people it is fairly easy to learn the German language, to become familiar with our culture and to integrate. Even short periods of time mean a lot to refugees.

A “companion” is a personal contact for an individual refugee or for a family who organizes – depending on the time they can spare, on their interests and opportunities – meetings and outings with refugees. If necessary, companions offer help and establish contacts with members of other teams to use their expertise for answering questions and solving problems.

The manner in which companions and refugees will be ‘paired’ is being organized at the moment.
There will be regular team meetings for companions to talk about their experiences. These meetings will be also open to people interested in becoming companions.
The head of this team is Claudia Rappelt who has worked as companion and mentor in a social project. Her expertise in this area will enrich the Companion Pool in Unterföhring.

Team Language Teaching and School

Up to now 30 helpers have joined this team. Without knowledge of the German language, successful integration of refugees is impossible. Therefore this team will offer basic language teaching to those who haven’t yet been assigned an official language course. It will support all refugees in acquiring spoken and written language competence. There will be private tuition and conversation training at informal gatherings with local residents.

The team will help adults and especially school children to find suitable learning materials and appropriate schools. It will work in close cooperation with the following teams: “Nursery School and Child Minding” and “Culture and Leisure”.

One of the team’s initiatives is the open discussion group. Team members and refugees meet once a week to talk about everyday life and to practice German. Here questions can be asked and problems raised which can then be referred directly to other teams to find solutions.
Activities which are open to everybody are being planned at the local library.

The head of the team is Dagmar Hoffmann who supported refugees in Unterföhring 20 years ago and has been doing this again for the last two years. This means that she can draw on a wealth of experience concerning the support and the integration of refugees.

Team Culture and Leisure

This team has been set up recently and is waiting for members to join it. It will help refugees to become acquainted with German customs and cultural activities in and around Unterföhring, covering everything from social behavior to traffic rules or our annual beer festival. There will be dance, music, singing and various other cultural activities – depending on what individual team members can offer and refugees would like to do.

We try to enlist active members: there is plenty of scope to put your ideas into practice.
The head of the team is Angela Ebert, who, as an enthusiastic singer and guitarist, will be responsible for the music section. Her energy will allow her to direct activities in this broad area.

Team Nursery and Childminding

Up to now 15 helpers have registered for this team. Access to education is one of the most important prerequisites for the successful integration of the children of refugees. The team helps parents to register their children, to organize day-to-day life at the institution and to cope with the unfamiliar system of child care. It also supports the integration of the children within their groups. In addition, there will be the possibility of baby-sitting, e.g. when parents are ill or have to attend courses.

The team members work in close cooperation with the “Translation Pool” and the “Sports” and “Leisure and Culture” teams.
At the moment the team is busy planning organized activities for refugees, finding suitable locations and collecting toys. The primary consideration at the moment is to get to know each other better. As soon as we are certain about which age groups have to be provided for, we will adjust offers according to requirements.

The head of the team is Anja Pabst, who has two children at nursery school and is therefore in close contact with day care facilities for children. From her own experience she is familiar with the needs of children and parents.

Team Work and Accommodation

Up to now 10 helpers have volunteered for this team.
This team will help refugees who already have a work permit to find a job and/or accommodation. At present, the main focus of the team is to establish a network of commercial companies with the aim of finding positions for trainees or apprenticeships, to create a pool of 1-Euro jobs, to clarify the legal aspects of entering a specific job, as well as helping with job applications.

The head of the team is Stilla Probst who has dealt with personnel-related matters for more than two decades and is therefore familiar with the requirements of employers. She maintains useful relations with authorities, social institutions, and commercial companies of all sizes and levels in Unterföhring and in the Munich area.

Team Donations and Maintenance

Up to now 45 volunteers have joined this team. The team takes care of the storage, administration and repair of donated items – such as clothing, household essentials, toys and bicycles. Up until today, about 200 boxes (filled with clothing, shoes, toys etc.) have been collected. At the moment, the team is busy creating a demand-oriented welcome gift to be handed over to newcomers in individually printed textile bags, which can later be used as shopping bags.

The team maintains close contact with the social workers at the accommodation facilities in order to safeguard an appropriate procedure for handing over donations. The Team “Donations” also is in close cooperation with the insurance company Allianz Deutschland AG whose staff have organized an extensive collection of donations at their company. This company will also make its premises available for the distribution of basic equipment.

The head of the team is Manfred Rott who will be able to make use of many years of practical experience in organization and guidance. He also maintains close contact with the local administration, the local materials depot and many other local organizations.
Times for delivery and distribution of donations are listed on the website where you can also find information about which items are needed most urgently.

Team Helper Support

The purpose of this team is to take care of the helpers.
Firstly, the team is training helpers by dealing with topics such as how make refugees feel welcome, the dos and don’ts for volunteers as well as motivation and aims of voluntary service. All-day seminars are held by Friederike Goergen. These seminars are intended for the voluntary members of the „Helferkreis“ as well as for interested citizens.

Secondly, the team’s purpose is to offer guidance to helpers in the course of their voluntary service. All people involved in helping others will be offered the opportunity to discuss their commitment.
In meeting people from different cultures we may reach personal limits. We may sometimes not know how to proceed, we may get frustrated because our words or intentions are being misunderstood. In such cases, it may be helpful to talk about problems and to reach a clearer understanding of the situation by discussing it. The process of telling and describing can lead to seeing new perspectives, receiving encouragement and reinforcement, as well as to discovering alternative solutions.

The heads of this team are Friederike Goergen (psychologist) and Robert Stolz (deacon). They would like to support and to accompany your commitment in the context of individual discussions as well as group discussions. They intend to take care of your personal well-being. They also aim to guide you to use your talents in the best way possible, to be aware of your limitations and to make sure that you don’t give more than you can.

If you want to talk about your experiences, discuss an unresolved or stressful situation, or if you just wish to join our team, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Friederike Goergen (tel. 089-295276, Email

Robert Stolz (tel. 0177-668865, Email

Team Sports

Sports connect people and different cultures. Therefore the team helps refugees to engage in various sports activities. Besides the health factor and the necessity to keep occupied, the idea of integration and of establishing contacts with residents of Unterföhring is our major concern.

Cooperating with the local sports clubs (TSV, Wrestling, FCU, Rugby, ASV) the Team Sports at present organizes sports activities for about 100 refugees, thereby supporting their step by step integration into these clubs. Further activities are planned on the new public sports grounds which were established by the local authority next to the emergency accommodation at Mitterfeldallee 17 where members of the community and refugees will be able to practise sports together.

Head of the team is Helmut Kraus who took over from Karl Gierlinger on 11.02.16. Helmut Kraus is manager, PE teacher and fitness coach. He was the German national coach for the ice speed skating teams during 6 Olympic Games. The realization of sports activities takes place in cooperation with and with the support of Wolfgang Kastl.

As the Team Sports is looking for assistance to maintain the different activities, we are at the moment in close contact with various sports clubs and with big companies such as Allianz, Sat1 Media, and Sky Germany Television.

Team Healthcare

Up to now 7 helpers have joined this team.
In addition to organized medical care, doctors from various branches and qualified nurses will support the medical treatment and counselling of refugees in close cooperation with the social workers at the accommodation facilities.

The head of the team is Dr. Sliwka, gynecologist and psychotherapist with a surgery in Unterföhring.

Team “Public Relations, Website, Press & Events”

Our dynamic team “Public Relations” consists of the three subdivisions: website, press and events as well as an administrative unit which coordinates their efforts. The purpose of this team is to shape the interior and exterior communication processes of the “Helferkreis” in an efficient and effective manner so that any information will be distributed quickly and appropriately.

Our overarching goal is to build a bridge between the citizens of Unterföhring and the newcomers, and we consider the imaginative use of communication to be essential to success.

We are looking for competent writers to strengthen our team. They should be familiar with WordPress, WPML and CSS and their tasks could include reporting on the activities of the various teams or publishing articles about the overall activities of the “Helferkreis”.
Joint leaders of the team are Kathrin Husel and Katrin Mruk.

The team’s subdivisions are led by: Christina Altvater – Website, Web Design and Development