The refugee registration centre Heidelberg (Patrick-Henry-Village) is the first stop for newly arrived refugees in Heidelberg. Together with the Caritas Verband Heidelberg e. V. (Caritas Heidelberg) and the Deutsches Rotes Kreuz Kreisverband Rhein-Neckar\Heidelberg e.V. (Red Cross), the Diakonisches Werk Heidelberg (the social welfare organisation of the Protestant church in Heidelberg) runs an independent advice service for refugees on social welfare and asylum process matters at the “Counselling Center for Refugees”.
Independent advice service on social welfare and asylum process matters — how we work
Our independent advice service on social welfare and asylum process matters aims to make life a little easier for newly arrived refugees looking for safety and shelter in Heidelberg. The asylum process is complex and difficult to understand, and we want to make sure from the very beginning that vulnerable persons are able to get access to the refugee protection system.
In practice: Our advice service helps to have the asylum process run its course in a timely and appropriate manner. We will assist clients with advice about their rights, but also about their responsibilities to co-operate in the course of the process. We will help new arrivals in Heidelberg to find their bearings and to get access to information about existing legal requirements for protection. In other words: We want to enable vulnerable persons to sufficiently understand the asylum process—so as to empower them to take action and make decisions in a most adequate and, particularly, in a self-dependent manner. We hold this to be an integral part of successful integration and inclusion.
An overview of our work — what we can do
Our advice service on social welfare and asylum process matters at the refugee registration centre Heidelberg (Patrick-Henry-Village) includes:
- advice and guidance in asylum process matters and related legal issues concerning a person's residence status
- assistance with the identification of increased vulnerability as laid down in EU guidelines
- supporting persons with increased vulnerability
- general advice on social welfare issues
- co-operation with volunteers, action groups and other community and charity workers and welfare organisations
How we see it — what's important to us
We lay great emphasis both on the fact that the advice service on social welfare and asylum process matters in Heidelberg is complementary to, and not competing with, existing state or local government services, and on our advice service being delivered independently from those services. Our advisers provide social advocacy services aimed at supporting and empowering clients. This explicitly does not include the execution of state or local government tasks. The association of welfare organisations in Heidelberg, with the support of corresponding federal district-level associations and based on the associations' core principles, takes responsibility for the work of our advice service. Persons seeking security and shelter shall be provided with advice and assistance without regard to their language, origin, gender and religion.
Our work is based on a close relationship of trust with people who have come to Heidelberg to find refuge. This relationship of trust we maintain by guaranteeing confidentiality of our advice activities and by respecting all obligations of secrecy.