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„Rosen“ fürs Netzwerk

Wolfgang Schlag, seineszeichens Kurator des Symposiums „Universal Hospitality“, das im Rahmen der Wr. Festwochen veranstaltet wurde,  hat uns Netzwerk Zuversicht zu genau diesem eingeladen. Gul Ahmed Salimi, Andreas Stix und Andrea Schrattenecker haben das zivilgesellschaftliche Engagement von Netzwerk Zuversicht einer breiten, internationalen, sehr interessierten Zuhörerschaft vorgestellt. Das hervorragend zusammengestellte Programm dieses Symposiums bot  abwechslungsreiche Beiträge die sich künstlerisch, theoretisch und praktisch mit dem Thema Migration und Vertreibung auseinandersetzten.
Wir möchten uns hier nochmal herzlich für die Einladung und das sehr positive Feedback – einem sinnbildlichen riesigen Rosenstrauß – bedanken

DANKE Wolfgang Schlag und seinem Team


Wortprotokoll zum Vortrag:

Netzwerk Zuversicht – network confidence

Netzwerk Zuversicht is a overconfessional, nonparty movement which supports refugees in Schwanenstadt, who live in an asylumhome which is managed by the Volkshilfe. The Volkshilfe is an austrian non-governmental-organisation (NGO).

As we were asked by Mr. Schlag to introduce Netzwerk Zuversicht as an example for civil social engagement, we try to give you an overview  about our history, our organisation and our work.

Schwanenstadt is a small town in upperaustria with approximately 4.300 inhabitants, its size is 2,59 km2. It seems quite  small, but in our special case you have to add the surrounding communities to the available population.
The parish of schwanenstadt is part of the deanery – which is responsible for 6 local political communities. There is a vital community life in this deanery and many persons who help in the „Sozialkreis“ are also engaged in the Netzwerk  Zuversicht.

Netzwerk Zuversicht is not a registered society it is a movement

A private Investor bought an office-building in Schwanenstadt and applied at the Uperaustrian  government  for the  initiation of an asylumhome. The house was  conceived for 40 persons and the investor got the  approval rather quick.
Knowing about the circumstances that an asylumhome will be opened in Schwanenstadt, the mayor of Schwanenstadt, Mr. Karl Staudinger,  invited immediately  all political Parties and convinced them, that it will be the best to support the opening of the house to prevent resistance. All 4 political parties  signed an open letter to the community.  The major  published this letter in  a community newspaper to inform  the population about the unity within this topic, this happened in November 2014.

After the release of the community newspaper   Margit Schmidinger and Siegi Neumüller, as representatives of the catholic church started to invite deputies  of all political parties, from the protestant church, persons of  the public live and interested ones  to an initiative meeting.

Approximately 40 interested persons were at the first meeting and agreed, that it is necessary to help and support these people from billingerent countries. Some of the people have already had contact to the inhabitants of the asylumhome. People supported the Refugees with the initiation of German courses, with the collection of donations and so on.  At the very beginning everything happened quite unstructured.
Before  the subsequent meetings we informed ourselves about possible structures for our movement and came in contact with the association “Plattform Altmünster”, we  used their organisational  experiences and gave the same structure to our movement.
At the second meeting we gave everyone of the interested persons the possibility to join our movement in which ever group he/she wanted.

At first we built 6 working groups and one core group. The working gropus are: Language, basic-needs,  public relations, get-together, family and children and the Flexibles. Over the time we invented another group, the mentors.

The group language has 8 members; everyone is holding a course, either alone or with a partner. Although it was no requirement, everyone who teaches german in our courses is actually a teacher. This indeed made it easy for some asylumseekers to get to a very good language-level within a very short time. But we have to say that the german-level is very different within the group of asylumseekers.

basic-needs:  This group is organising goods, such as vegetables – 40 kg vegetables are donated by a farmer every week; furniture, dishes, clothes, bikes, stroller and so on.
Every week two to four persons take delivery of the donated goods and help to sort them. This is a very important work because the donations are of a very different quality.

get-together: this group organises Parties, excursions, footballtrainings and other sports-activities

family and children: this group was supposed to coordinate activities with the families, or to support children with tuition

public-relations (6 members) this group takes care for our homepage and facebook-account, they write articles for different news-papers, are responsible for protocols and care about the communication within the group – e.g. newsletter

The group public relations searched for a name and created Netzwerk Zusversicht – network confidence. We are sure, that it is necessary to give confidence to the people who come to Austria in the hope of freedom. We try to give confidence to the future of everyone.

After the name was born we started to inform the population via newspapers, facebook and our homepage about our work, about the asylumseekers, about the persons supporting Netzwerk Zuversicht and so on. We found it very necessary to show the faces of the Netzwerk-Zuversicht members to use the “prominence” of each person to get acceptance within the population of Schwanenstadt

The group public relations takes care about the incoming e-mails and refer to the concerning group or persons of Netzwerk Zuversicht.
They also supported a student who wrote her bachelor-work about Netzwerk Zuversicht.

Flexibles: This group organizes different needed rides to doctors, authorities and so on

It turned out, that for example the group children and family has almost no activities, whereas the group – mentors- was more and more important

The so called mentors (25 to 30 members) look  for asylumseekers and build friendships with them. They practice conversation with each other and improve the language-knowledge. Mentors meet with their refugees regularely, some do it once a week others almost every second day. Sometimes the refugees are invited to the mentors homes, they have lunch or dinner with each other  or they make a leisure activity with each other.
We found out, that these mentoring  is the most successful method to integrate the inhabitants  of the  volkshilfe-house in Schwanenstadt.
Refugees get the possibility to learn how Austrian persons/families live, how they think about family, relationships, women in public and so on.
One mentor also meant, that only by being in regular contact she was able to understand the problems of the refugees; e.g. his fears

Every working group appointed a speaker who is responsible for the group and gives information to the coregroup and also gets the information from the core-group.

The core group is responsible for the coordination of all groups and also for the further planning of activities and the organisational structure.


The asylumseekers get the possibility to earn money by working for the community, they cut the lawn, weed,  clean the streets, build new paths or help at different celebrations. This work allows them to earn a limited amount of extra money and makes them also visible as helpers and working people to the population of Schwanenstadt which is even more important for the acceptance of the refugees.

In June 2015 Network confidence and the community of Schwanenstadt organized a „Festival of cultures“, this party adressed all persons of schwanenstadt of each nationality. This party was very well attended and it was an absolute success, as many persons helped to organise it and they also made showacts. The asylumseekers prepared an oriental buffet, which was eaten up far before the end of the fest.


Kulturcafe – once a month we organise the Kulturcafe and invite interested people to come to the asylumhome  and to get in contact with us and the refugees. We offer coffee, tea and cake and give structure to the meeting by the topic of each Kulturcafe. The Kulturcafe is also a meeting-point for Helpers with other Helpers or with the newcomers of the asylumhome.

Frauensprechcafe – takes place approximately ever 6 weeks; as the name already tells, this meeting is only for women, because the expectations showed, that women are more likely to tell about themselves when they are in a group with women only.

ÖTB – Trainings – One member of the network confidence is also member of the ÖTB, the austrian gymnastic club. He organised the possibility for  asylumseekers to attend different gymnastic courses as  volleyball, gymnastics, soccer and so on. It turned out, that some persons integrated well and they go to the courses regularly and also go to the restaurant after the training, where they are invited from the austrian guys.

ÖAV – hiking, the Austrian Alpenverein organised a hiking tour, to show the refugees the mountainous surrounding

Catholic Church – One breakthrough in Schwanenstadt also happend, when in Dezember 2014  Fuad Ahmawed, who is a syrian musician, sang „Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht“ in arabic and german during the catholic church at the christmas mass on the 24th of December. All churchgoers where very impressed and speechless because of this breathtaking performance, even the priest couldn’t continue his speech. Fuad is a syrian kurd, who wanted to show his respect to another religious community and earned a lot of appreciation for this performance, not only for himself but also for the other inhabitants of the Asylumhome.
The catholic church gives the refugees the possibility to take part in different celebrations, like Fronleichnam and they also invite them to the Pfarrcafe or other events.

Cooperation with schools – some of the Netzwerk members are teachers in our schools and they invited the refugees to their schools and made a language project, where pupils and refugees learned german with each other.

Gardening project – the asylumhome has no garden and soon the idea was born, that we should look for some ground in Schwanenstadt, where the refugees can start a gardening project to give them some “Aufgaben”. The ground was found immediately and help was given by two young girls who accomplished this project.

Concerts/Parties – The Refugees are either invited to concerts or parties or they help with the cooking and so on.

As if so many different persons are involved in the Netzwerk Zuversicht and other  clubs, almost every citizen can have contact to the refugees.

I think, that one of the sucess factors is, that the persons who are engaged in the netzwerk zuversicht are from different communities and some of them are “prominent” within Schwanenstadt, which in turn raised the acceptance of our work and the asylumseekers. Some well-known members of Netzwerk Zuversicht are for example teachers, shopowners, members of different associations etc. who are in contact with a lot of people. They are opinion leaders and attracted some of their customers; teachers integrated the topic „REFUGEES“ into the lessions at school.

Positive effects for members of Netzwerk Zuversicht are, that they made contact with people from the surrounding who they did not know before; the helpers who were „relatively new“ in Schwanenstadt get a better integration into the community-life.

During the preparation of this presentation I asked some Netzwerk Zuversicht members what they see as success-factors for our movement and most of them said that for them it is very important to have a stable organisation in the background which gives them the feeling to be imbedded in the organisation. Everyone has the possibility to ask for help and support within the organisation.
Others said, that there is a big respect to the work of every member and the organisation therefore avoids internal stress.

From the Volkshilfe there is only one person responsible for all the people in the refugees home. The capacity of this home is 46 people. Since the very beginning there have been about 130 refugees in Schwanenstadt. Without thevolunteers help the huge workload would not be achievable.

We are in a very good contact with the manageress of the Volkshilfehaus, she pointed out, how helpful the work of Netzwerk Zuversicht is for her professional work because she wouldn`t be able to organise all the donations, leisure activities, language courses and so on – next to her huge amount of responsibilities. The manageress comes regularely to our meetings and gives us the opportunity to ask about the ongoing affairs and informs us about the needs.


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