During the three-year sponsorship period, volunteer mentors now support the 15 students with a refugee background in their personal, social, and professional development. The goal is to boost the self-esteem of the young refugees who are required to attend vocational school so they can take responsibility for shaping their lives in Germany after the support period.
The 15 new ‘Hand in Hand’ programme participants come from Afghanistan, Syria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ukraine, Kosovo and Iraq. During a ceremony on 28 January 2023, the young people met their mentors, who will support them in word and deed in the future.
In accordance with the programme’s name, the volunteer mentors each lend a helping hand to one young person. Regular contact between mentors and mentees as well as active participation in the sponsorship programme increase the chances of personal, social, and professional integration. The programme includes language courses as well as joint visits to cultural events or getting to know clubs and interest groups.
"Arriving in a foreign country as a young person requires great readiness for learning the language, adapting to cultural particularities and social expectations. At the end of January, we were able to take in 15 young people who bring all of this with them in a remarkable way - and who want to feel at home in Bielefeld. It is a great pleasure for us to be able to support them."
The ‘Hand in Hand’ sponsorship programme of the Wolfgang and Regina Böllhoff Foundation was launched in Bielefeld in 2016. Launched in the wake of the refugee crisis, the Böllhoff Foundation's programme aims support young people with a refugee background in their integration. The goal of the three-year support: The young people should be able to make their way in society and feel at home in Germany.
As of December 2022, four cohorts with a total of 35 students have completed their three-year support period with a certificate. One of these students is Adil Kochari. He came to Germany from Iraq and successfully completed the sponsorship programme at the end of 2021.
"I have very fond memories of my years in the programme. Having language tuition and being able to talk with my mentor meant that I could improve my German skills and pass the B2 exam. The leisure activities were lots of fun, too. And I’m thankful that I was able to get to know the Böllhoff company. I’m now an apprentice there to become a machine and plant operator."