ERGO and employees make donations for soup kitchens

Support in the times of the coronavirus crisis

Magazine, 09.04.2020

Homeless people and those on low incomes are suffering particularly from the coronavirus crisis, as many social amenities can no longer work. But at all administration locations, there are establishments that are continuing to provide people in need with food, warming rooms and soup kitchens which ERGO and the employee association “ergo: wir helfen” are now supporting. Each establishment receives altogether €7,500, made up of €5,000 from ERGO and €2,500 from “ergo: wir helfen” (ergo: we help).

© PantherMedia / Wieslaw Jarek 

Homeless people are one of the high-risk groups for Covid-19. Many have preexisting conditions that are often untreated, and their general medical condition isn’t good. On top of this, they often have addictions, which weaken their bodies and make them vulnerable. Regular, healthy food is therefore now more important and needed than ever. But other needy people on low incomes are also reliant on cheap catering facilities, which means that demand is high.   

Soup kitchens hand out packed lunches

The soup kitchen in Berlin, where our Berlin colleagues have already been working as part of the corporate volunteering programme, has adapted its work to the changes in daily routines. Bernd Backhaus, the manager of that establishment, explained just how: “We’re not serving hot meals in our guest area but are handing out packed lunches and tea, outside in the courtyard. Like in the supermarkets, we’ve tightened up the serving arrangements and marked out distances of two metres on the floor. Social distancing is particularly difficult for our guests, as they don’t have the possibility of maintaining social contacts via smartphones, tablets or telephones. But they’re very disciplined.”

Manuela Bauer also confirmed this. She runs the warming room for the homeless in Nuremberg, one of the few establishments that are still open there. Here, guests can also stay beyond the period in which food is served, as well as being able to use the sanitary facilities: “But the focus is on the food! We’re also giving out packed lunches, besides continuing to serve hot soups, which our guests can take away. We also get people coming in who do have somewhere to live but can no longer look after themselves. We provide them with food.”

Soup kitchens are more reliant than ever on donations

Soup kitchens currently rely more than ever on financial donations, as they’re not getting food donations from (closed down) restaurants or from food banks, most of which have stopped working.

For Michael David, the first chairperson of „ergo: wir helfen“, the association’s donations correspond precisely to the purpose of the employee association: “We’ve been supporting people in emergency situations for thirty years. For us as an association, it’s obvious: This is where we must help!” And Julia Ries, deputy chairperson of the association, added: “For us, it’s easy and natural to say we’ll stay at home. But people with no home don’t have that option. Anyone who’s living on the street has no safe haven. And so, for the time it takes to eat a lunch, the soup kitchens are a safe haven of sorts. That’s why the donations from ERGO and “ergo: wir helfen” are so important.”

By Monika Stobrawe

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