Freudenberg - Innovating Together

Freudenberg - Innovating Together

Help for Refugees

​Up to the end of 2015, employees, partners and retired former employees were invited to donate funds to the Freudenberg refugee aid initiative. The company then tripled the final amount donated, creating a total fund of over 1.6 million Euros. In addition, Freudenberg is making a special annual donation of 250,000 Euros, meaning that 2.6 million Euros will be available for refugee aid up to the end of 2019. Since the start of the initiative, over 1.3 million Euros have already been invested in more than 70 different projects.

Phase 1: Emergency aid and support for children, young people and language training
By the end of 2016, support had been provided for children and young people, families with children and the elderly. Projects proposed by Freudenberg employees were given preference. A donation committee made up of current and former Freudenberg executives decided which projects would be supported. The measures can be divided into three categories:
  • ​​Emergency aid in Germany and in global crisis regions
  • Special support for children and young people
  • Teaching of language skills​



Pilgerhaus Weinheim: Everyone under one roof Weinheim: Everyone under one roof<p>​October 2015. The global fundraising campaign for refugees has begun. With the help of donations made by Freudenberg colleagues, one of the first projects is also underway: an initiative to support young refugees in Weinheim, Germany – the headquarters of Freudenberg.<br>The donations committee has already received a number of proposals. These have come from Freudenberg colleagues abroad, such as India and Austria, but also from Weinheim and the surrounding area. "One of the first projects in Europe to be made possible by donations from Freudenberg employees involves the "Pilgerhaus" (Pilgrim House) in Weinheim and directly benefits one of our target groups – young refugees", explained committee member Dr. Makoto Makabe, Director of Corporate Training at Freudenberg & Co. <br><br>Under the umbrella of the social welfare organization of the Protestant Church, 100 young people who left their homes without the accompaniment of an adult to come to Europe will be made to feel welcome, accepted and valued. Young refugees have been allocated to the Pilgerhaus by the Rhine-Neckar region, which will provide them with support and cover the cost of accommodating them in apartments in Weinheim and the surrounding area.</p><p style="text-align:center;"><img alt="Freudenberg engagiert sich für Flüchtlinge (1).jpg" src="/en/Responsibility/Socialresponsibility/PublishingImages/Freudenberg%20engagiert%20sich%20für%20Flüchtlinge%20(1).jpg" style="margin:5px;width:688px;" /><em><br><br>Farid (15), Farhad (15) and Mostafa (17) from Afghanistan are loading the donated table football tables with the support of Marcelo Muscio and Cristobal Castillo (both Freudenberg IT) in Weinheim industrial park.</em></p><p>Successfully settling into life in a foreign country calls for more than a roof over your head. Understanding and speaking the language and learning about cultural events and characteristics are especially important. However, municipalities can only support refugees in the context of clear guidelines. "The Committee has therefore decided to enable the provision of additional services for the refugees in the Pilgerhaus to help familiarize them with the German language and culture", said committee chairman Dr. Ernst Schön. A former member of the Freudenberg Management Board, he has been active with non-profit network partners of Freudenberg for many years. <br><br>Bicycles from the industrial park that are no longer needed will also be going to the refugees in the Pilgerhaus, along with a grant to cover the cost of repair to ensure that they are roadworthy. In addition, Freudenberg IT is donating three table soccer kits for the young refugees. As soon as the first provision of aid has been signed and sealed, the committee will give careful consideration to further support in the context of the fundraising campaign, related to the Pilgerhaus' large network of experts in helping people experiencing trauma or stress. <br><br>Freudenberg is committed to working closely with the town of Weinheim in implementing these and all future measures. This coordination is important for two reasons. Firstly because a company can only make donations to non-profit organizations or municipalities and secondly so that the latter can better coordinate the provision of aid. Ultimately, this aid is intended not only to help the refugees in the Pilgerhaus but about 500 other refugees in Weinheim.</p>
Joint project with the Goethe-Institut for language training of young refugees project with the Goethe-Institut for language training of young refugeesNovember 2015. Global technology group Freudenberg’s fundraising initiative for refugees has reached the one million mark. So far, employees and shareholders around the world have donated more than 350,000 Euros for refugee aid: by the start of the holiday season at the end of the year, the company will have tripled that amount. Through this initiative, Freudenberg is supporting numerous projects in which the company’s employees are also involved as volunteers. Freudenberg has now donated 150,000 Euros to the Goethe-Institut with the aim of facilitating access to language training and education for as many young refugees in Germany as possible. <br><br>Freudenberg employees have repeatedly reported from their projects that there is a great need for language teaching. Learning German as quickly as possible, going to school or undertaking vocational training are top priorities among young refugees in particular. This group is at the heart of Freudenberg’s fundraising campaign.  Education has traditionally been a focus of the company’s social commitment. “For us, it was clear that we wanted our initiative to support language training more systematically and on a broader level”, explained Dr. Mohsen Sohi, CEO of Freudenberg Group. “As someone who was not raised in Germany, I am all the more convinced: if a young person really “arrives”, integrates himself, builds the self-confidence needed to take control of his own life – all that stands and falls on his language skills.” <br><div style="text-align:center;"><img alt="Sprachfoerderung_im_Fokus.jpg" src="/en/Responsibility/Socialresponsibility/PublishingImages/Sprachfoerderung_im_Fokus.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:688px;height:282px;" /> </div><div style="text-align:center;"><em>Facilitating access to the German language for young refugees is the goal of a joint project between Freudenberg and the Goethe Institute. Source: Goethe Institute​</em></div><br>As a leading institution for German language and culture, the Goethe-Institut will receive 150,000 Euros from the Freudenberg refugee aid project for its nationwide facilities. “A glance at the newspaper is enough to know that the thousands of refugees flocking to Germany from various crisis regions are presenting us with very particular challenges. For this reason, it is extremely welcome that the Freudenberg Group has recognized a field for its social commitment here. We are delighted that Freudenberg is supporting the Goethe-Institut’s refugee projects and are most grateful for their donation”, said Dr. Roland Meinert, Head of Germany’s 12 Goethe-Institut locations. <br><br>75,000 Euros of the Freudenberg donation will be used to fund German courses for young refugees who are not yet entitled to state-subsidized education in accordance with the asylum process. "We want to help where the need is greatest and to supplement public funding so that as many young people as possible can benefit", explained Dr. Ernst Schön, Chairman of the company's Donations Committee and former member of the Freudenberg Management Board. 50,000 Euros have been earmarked for the development of teaching materials specifically for the refugee target group.<br><br>The Goethe-Institut will receive a further 25,000 Euros to provide volunteers with a basic knowledge of German teaching. This will help them to assist refugees more effectively in taking their first steps in the German language. Promoting employee engagement is a central concern for Freudenberg. At all corporate locations in Germany located in the vicinity of a Goethe-Institut, the donation will benefit employee volunteers who wish to participate in one of these training courses. The remaining amount will be used to support volunteers throughout Germany. 
Kufstein, Austria: Making a bigger difference – together, Austria: Making a bigger difference – togetherOktober 2015. An aid project for unaccompanied young refugees is being launched at the Freudenberg Sealing Technologies site in Kufstein. The focus lies on integration through education. The initiative will be funded using donations from the Freudenberg refugee help project. But the Kufstein colleagues will also be offering their personal help.  <br><br>"We are just in the process of setting up the bunk beds", explained Claudia Vögele. By the beginning of November at the latest, the new refugee accommodation in Kufstein will offer a temporary home to 30 young people from Syria, Afghanistan or any other of the world's crisis-hit regions. Many of those seeking help will be orphans. Vögele is employed by Tyrolean Social Services GmbH, which coordinates refugee care in the Tyrol. In addition to salaried professionals and volunteers, a number of adult asylum seekers will also be helping out with the young refugees. Nevertheless, "we can't do it all on our own; we are relying on outside help", said Vögele.<br><br>This is where the Kufstein site of Freudenberg Sealing Technologies comes into play, which is part of the Special Sealing Division. Dr. Andreas Raps, who has worldwide responsibility for the division, immediately seized the initiative to cooperate with the new refugee facility. The first project is already underway. "Our first move was to make 10,000 Euros available from the Freudenberg refugee donation fund to Tyrolean Social Services GmbH to provide computers for the new home", Raps explained. Behind this is the conviction that education holds the key to the integration of young people. Another 15,000 Euros has been earmarked for the beginning of 2016 to purchase additional teaching aids. "We are enormously grateful for this company's financial commitment", said Vögele. <br><br>But that is not all. The support of Freudenberg in Kufstein explicitly includes the personal commitment of employees. On a voluntary basis, Freudenberg colleagues will be offering computer and language courses or helping young people with their school homework. "We will be organizing tours of the factory to teach the youngsters about our culture and the work environment in Western Europe. At the weekends, when most of the staff have time off, we could also offer the occasional mountain tour", said Raps, describing only one of many possibilities within a project that has been designed for the long-term.<br><br>The details are currently being defined jointly by the company and the leaders of the new home. Wolfgang Schachermayr, Head of the Freudenberg site, expects broad support from the workforce: "Our factory is a prime example of the integration of different nationalities."  Many Freudenberg employees have already expressed their interest in helping the young refugees to help themselves as they embark on their new lives – through the offer of help and advice as mentors, each with his or her special expertise. "This sort of contact with industry is very important for the young people", Vögele confirmed. <br><br>

Phase 2: Internships while at school 
Working together with the company’s training center, the donation committee developed an internship concept for young refugees. The one-year program qualifies participants for an apprenticeship program in simple metalworking skills, such as metalworkers or machine and plant operators.
Phase 3: Technical apprenticeships
Once the internship program is successfully up and running, the next step is to show the refugees how their prospects might develop long-term and to offer them training places. The goal is to give 12 to 15 refugees the opportunity to start an apprenticeship program over the next three years. The remaining money from the fundraising initiative will in future be used exclusively for this purpose. Because funding from the donation pot has been ring-fenced, these opportunities can be offered in addition to the regular training places.

In focus: support and integration 
Particular attention is being paid to the special situation of the refugees. The preparatory phase will begin in May 2017, during which the refugees will be given the assistance they need to start training in October, including targeted, individual support as well as language teaching. The concept envisions each refugee being supported by a social worker throughout the training period. In addition, the plan is for permanent Freudenberg employees to assume the role of mentors and thus support the integration of the refugees.