Our Life. Our Voice. Yount people and poverty.

Meeting between Stuttgart and Frankfurt (Oder) in Frankfurt (oder) May 2016


Our IB Stuttgart Poverty group visited the group of IB Frankfurt (Oder) from 24th to 26th of May 2016. The aim of the meeting was amongst others to discover Frankfurt (Oder) under the perspective of youth poverty. The accommodation was in a IB-hostel, which also offers housing for refugees and pupils.

During the visit the participants had discovered Frankfurt (Oder), which is located on the river Oder at the German-Polish border. Till 1990 it was part of GDR, had various industries and ca. 90.000 inhabitants. In the frame of the German reunification in 1990, the industry declined, and the new innovative industry (the solar industry) couldn’t be sustainably implemented. As consequence more than 30.000 persons left the city looking for a job somewhere else, the income tax has decreased and the city had less financial capacity for social support. At present around 1/3 of children and young people are at risk of poverty and the youth unemployment rate is higher than the average.
Over the river Oder we can see the Polish city Słubice. Former part of Frankfurt (Oder), Słubice is a quite rich region in Poland which benefits from a lot of EU funding (e.g. regional and social funds). Social work is mainly done by the Catholic Church and less by charity organisations like in Germany. Wage and social standards are lower than in Germany but the prices for food, medication and other services such as hairdressers or dentists are very attractive for the habitants of Frankfurt (Oder). As a consequence the spending power and consumption go from the German to the Polish side.

Another point of the agenda covered the activities of IB in Frankfurt (Oder). The participants learnt about numerous IB projects and activities targeting vulnerable young people, such as vocational trainings in different professional fields, management of hostels, youth centers, centers for young people with migration background and homes for refugees. Excursions, travels and other activities for young disadvantaged people are on the yearly agenda of IB. The aim is to reach young people out and to provide them more opportunities for education, for getting active and, depending on the activity, gaining self-esteem. IB implements also projects for the young people and for youth and social workers at European level, especially with partners from Poland and Finland.
At the same time as our visit, a Finnish group was there for a qualification in gastronomy field. Together with them our group participated in the High Rope Climbing Garden of IB. This activity is a very suitable instrument for developing soft skills like team work, self-confidence, etc. The participants had some team-work activities like building a tower, climbing a wall, overcoming obstacles, get balanced on a board and balancing on ropes around 8 meters high. Although communicating in two different languages, both groups solved all exercises brightly. With support of the two „adventure bears“ Nils and Uwe the participants felt always safe and could really gain self-confidence and courage.

On the way back the group made a stop in Berlin. It was a good opportunity to visit politically and historically important sites like the Brandenburg Gate, the Parliament and the Holocaust memorial.

During the visit the participants could notice that social and economic problems in the EU are very difficult to solve due to the big disparities between the countries and between regions in the same countries.
Even if there are social and economic differences within the EU, even if it is really difficult for young people to travel around Europe and discover other regions, Europe gives the opportunity to know each other by taking part in exchange programs or trying to live some time in another European country. 
Prejudices should be reduced, and, ideally, moving from Bucharest to London should be like going from New York to San Francisco.  There´s still a long way to go. Hope dies last!

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