In the cold season you meet more and more people on the way to work who have spent the night in subway stations. But how to help? Donate a cup of coffee, a roll or a sleeping bag? We have asked homeless people and our social workers how you can help.
Helping homeless people, but how? Find out in the video and in our FAQs below – also available for audprinting.
What can I do when I meet a homeless person who does not seem to be doing well??
Perceiving homeless people. If he or she is approachable, ask if help is needed and if so, what kind of help. For example, call an ambulance or inform a warming bus that can take the person to an emergency shelter if necessary. If the person is unresponsive, put them in the recovery position if possible and call an ambulance.
What can I do if I want to donate something to a homeless person??
The basic rule is that the person I am talking to tells me what help he or she needs, not me. Then: Watch. Approach. Questions. It’s not just about the content of the response, but about the "how Communication. Asking if the person would like to accept a donation from me or what they could use right now. This can be a warm tea, water, a roll, clothes or even money. Donate things only in the quality in which I would accept them myself. And many are happy for a nice hello or conversation.
Which local support services can I refer to??
For homeless people there are day-care centers, emergency sleeping facilities or food distribution points. A compilation of different offers throughout Germany can be found here.
What can I do if I want to donate something to an institution for homeless people?
- Be aware of what you want to do with the money.
- Inform yourself about appropriate providers. Do this in person if possible, because important aspects of the job can come up in conversation.
Material things (food, clothing, hygiene items, . ) donate:
- Asking a specific institution what or if my donation offer is currently needed.
- Donate things only in the quality in which I would accept them myself.
Clarify the personal prerequisites: What is my personal motivation? How much time do I have? What do I want to do?
In my work with homeless people, I am confronted with a lot of hardship and personal fates. Can I switch off after my engagement? What opportunities are there to reflect on what they have experienced??
For people it is important to be accepted as they are. Can I treat people with enough sensitivity and respect? Homeless people sometimes have developed behaviors that are strange to me. To what extent can I respect otherness without judging it?
Find out what is needed. This is important not only to actually provide meaningful support, but also to protect yourself from disappointment and false expectations.
And then: let yourself get involved in the encounters with curiosity and joy, and let yourself be surprised by the perspectives that open up through them.
What is better not to do?
Judging – many think "he only buys drugs from my donation anyway". The reasons for homelessness can be very different – usually economic hardship coupled with difficult personal life circumstances. Whoever is in such a life situation deserves help. In addition, you should not ask insensitive questions.