Association Women Helping Women Women's shelter in Troisdorf helps women and children make a new start
Troisdorf · Six months ago, the Troisdorf Women Helping Women association moved its shelter into a new home – along with a new concept. Since then, it has offered protection to 17 women and 25 children.
Every woman who moves into one of the ten flats in the new apartment building in the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Hütte district of Troisdorf has taken the decisive first step. She has managed to free herself and often also her children from a life marked by violence and humiliation.
In the women and children's shelter run by the Troisdorf association "Women Helping Women", they can find peace, find themselves and start to hope again. The house has been in a new location since November, and since then 17 women and 25 children have found help there.
With the move from a single-family house to a purpose-built multi-family house built, a lot has changed. The women and their children are housed in ten independent flats, have their own bathroom and kitchen. And, unlike before, the location is no longer anonymous.
Good contact with the neighbourhood
"We feel very welcome here in the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Hütte district," says Michiko Park from the executive board. The cooperation with day-care centres and schools for the up to 18 children they can take in works. In addition, she says, they get on well with the neighbours. "We always have offers of help," she reports.
She and her colleagues still have to learn how to deal with the new security technology that comes with the new, open concept. But after only a few months, she says, it has become clear that Friedrich-Wilhelms-Hütte is the right place for them. The biggest change in their daily work, she says, is that the women and their children live in their own flats. "We can’t work on demand any more, but have to have a schedule," says Park. In the past, the communal kitchen was the meeting place for everyone. That is now a little lacking. "But new meeting places are slowly emerging," she says. The new pavilion in the garden is one of them, as is the café on the ground floor.
Breaking the spiral of violence
"But we have also realised that there are limits to what we can provide," says Park. In view of the tight housing market, she says, the women and children are staying longer in recent years. They want to use this to work more intensively, also with the children. "If you want to break the spiral of violence in the long term, you have to work with the children," explains the social worker.
That is why the association has intensified its socio-pedagogical work and increased personnel who are paid through donations. But now and then there are situations in which they reach their limits. "It would be good if we could bridge the gap to other forms of help," says Park. For example, through closer cooperation with youth welfare services or other municipal institutions.
Another new feature of the child and youth shelter is that it is barrier-free and has a wheelchair-accessible flat on the ground floor. Just recently, a senior citizen who after decades was able to free herself from her life with a violent husband lived there. She is now starting a whole new life somewhere else. "Through our aftercare, however, we are still there for the women and children when they move into their own flat," Michiko Park explains. That is important, she adds.
Original article: Nadine Quadt
Translation: Jean Lennox