Laura Timmann has been working as a refugee advisor at the Ecumenical Initiative since August 2020, as the successor to Morris Weißelberg. In Wipperfürth she takes care of people from many cultures. Many refugees come from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq and of course from Syria. However, there are also African refugees living in the Hanseatic city, mainly from Nigeria, Mali and Guinea.
It is not uncommon for these people to have experienced terrible things on their flight; some of them find it difficult to cope with everyday life because they are traumatized and need psychological help. Organizing this is not always easy, reports Timmann.
Often people come with everyday questions
One of the most important tasks of the refugee advisor is advising on asylum and residence permits. Here she works closely with lawyers and the immigration authorities. The newly concluded cooperation with the city of Wipperfürth defines exactly which tasks the city’s social welfare office takes on and which belong to Laura Timmann’s area of responsibility.
Often it is everyday questions that people come to the office at Lüdenscheider Strasse 17, in the Evangelical Community Hall, with: How do I register my children in kindergarten, what is a health insurance, what do I have to look out for with a new mobile phone contract?
Once a week the advisor visits the refugee accommodation at Wipperhof in person. “I ask people ‘how are you doing, are there any problems’,” it is well received by the refugees. “Small talk is very important,” is her experience. Due to personal relationships with people, however, it is difficult to maintain a certain distance. “And sometimes you get frustrated too.”
In the future, if Corona allows it, she wants to again, together with volunteers, offer regular leisure activities for locals and refugees, from cooking to sports groups. The “Café International” should also open again soon.
Source: Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger – Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger by www.ksta.de.
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