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.
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
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.
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.
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.