When others celebrate

When others celebrate

Holidays in the calendar © Holger Hollemann

Christmas will again see many people working while others spend the holidays with their families. Even on duty, colleagues make an effort to be a little festive – whether in a facility for the disabled or on a platform in the sea.

The candles on the Advent wreath spread a mild light, even if they are electric candles for fire safety reasons. After their work, the men and women from the residential group of the
Disabled facility Lobetalarbeit in Celle on winter days a ritual. Over coffee and tea, educator Sebastian Wiesenberg reads them a story.

"We want to make it comfortable," says Wiesenberg, who is also on duty on Christmas Eve this year. But not always it goes with those, which are demanded by their occupation at Christmas, only contemplatively.

Holiday rest does not apply to all

According to the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, around a quarter of all employees work at least occasionally on Sundays and public holidays, most of them in the service sector. In addition to the catering industry, nursing, police, fire and rescue services are among the areas where working on holidays is widespread. One reason for this is the Working Hours Act, which prescribes a holiday rest period, but allows exceptions for these industries.

"Nice work, especially at Christmas"

In the Altencelle branch of Lobetalarbeit, around 150 people with disabilities are looked after and cared for in shift work – around the clock and, of course, every day. When it comes to duty rosters, facility manager Gisela Thiessen takes family situations into account, for example, and seeks coordination with colleagues. "But it is not a pure wishful thinking," she says.

"Above all, we have to ensure a good supply."Sebastian Wiesenberg sees it pragmatically. "You volunteer to work Christmas Eve and then New Year’s Eve again every two years," he says with a twinkle in his eye. "But it’s a beautiful work, especially at Christmas."

Beware of too much holiday work

In the diaconal work of Lobetal, a special atmosphere is already evident before the holiday. Curative education nurse Alexandra Mock cuts a bag from the Advent calendar in her residential group of adults with mental disabilities. The oldest resident, at 70, hums to herself. She can’t talk, reports Mock. But now words from the Advent carol are audibly creeping in – "Power up the door".

According to the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, regular work on Sundays and holidays is also a burden. The beat no longer swings in unison with most others. Those who work more often on weekends are at greater risk to their health and often find it harder to switch off, says spokesman Jorg Feldmann. And there is a social component, he says: "Days when many people have free time together are important."Holiday work cannot be avoided to some extent, he says, but it should not be extended unnecessarily.

Christmas without the family

Pascal Springer’s service can save lives. In the North Sea off Lower Saxony lies the platform for current processing, on which the offshore rescue paramedic of Johanniter this year from 19. December until 2. January on duty. In his practice there, he deals with everything from coughs to cuts to heart attacks. He is supported by doctors from Oldenburg and Berlin via telemedicine.

The 35-year-old from Balingen near Tubingen spends the holidays around 800 kilometers away from his wife and five- and three-year-old sons. But every now and then he also has two weeks off at a stretch. "It’s a life in two worlds," he says. He says this is only possible because his wife has his back and he knows that friends and family are there for her.

However, the platform workers from all over the world are also striving for a festive mood, knows Springer, who will be spending his first Christmas at sea. He is thinking of bringing a local speciality with him, smoked meat from the Swabian Alb, just as his colleagues from other countries would do.

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