Counselling that makes you independent

Tübingen District. Around 400 refugees from the district of Tübingen have made it: they have become independent of the district’s social services. This is according to Martin Quack, one of the heads of the specialised service for refugees at the Tübingen District Office. Most of them have found a job that has made them independent of social benefits, they speak good German and have their own flat. Others have moved away, for example because they have found a job elsewhere. As a rule, the support ends when the refugees have received a settlement permit and are thus allowed to stay in Germany permanently or when they have gone eight months without counselling.
The 34 employees of the District Office who work at the specialised service for refugees nevertheless have their hands full. They are responsible for social support and integration management in the entire district—with the exception of the city of Tübingen, which has taken over the area of integration management on its own. In recent years, they have looked after more than 2,000 clients at the same time. Recently, the number of people seeking advice decreased—but since the summer the numbers increased and then came the Ukraine war. Currently, 1700 refugees from Ukraine are being cared for in the Tübingen district. In order to reduce the burden, the district council created 22.5 new positions for their care in different areas of the administration in mid-May. Of these, 10 positions are in the specialist service. Most of these posts are limited to two years.
“We start integration work as early as possible”, says Quack. This means that the staff of the specialised service already do social work in the shared accommodation and continue counselling when the refugees have moved to the follow-up accommodation with the municipalities. Refugee social work and integration management thus go hand in hand. Their goal: to make themselves superfluous.
It is a long way until then. The counsellors have to adjust to all those seeking advice individually: Has a refugee completed an apprenticeship in his home country, has a client graduated from university? Sometimes it is about information on health issues, sometimes also about the question of whether an education from a faraway country is recognised in Germany. The main focus is on learning German.
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution”, says Quack. The counsellors therefore develop individual integration goals together with the refugees. The key question is “Where do you want to go?” The integration management staff also work closely with volunteers who support the families in their arrival in Germany. Basically, the counselling for refugees from Ukraine is somewhat less complex than for the people who came to the country in 2015/16. “Many things are similar”, says Quack, referring to comparable authority structures and the school system.
How quickly refugees managed to become independent of social counselling depends greatly on their circumstances. “Single mothers with several children need more time than young men with a good education”, says Quack. What people have experienced in the wars in their home country or on the run also has a big influence. Those who have been severely traumatised usually need longer support.


Der Fachdienst für Geflüchtete im Tübinger Landratsamt. Foto: tünews INTERNATIONAL / Scheyda Karasu




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