Counseling the most vulnerable pregnant women

To accompany pregnant women from highly disadvantaged circles, a structure for helping the neediest, Diakonie, is going to open a café where they can obtain help and advice.

Social and Employment

Hamburg, Germany

Nina Steffenhagen

6,000 € to the Selection Committee at 2008/03/26

Project leader


« This project is not a completely makeshift affair! It is the extension of an existing project to meet growing needs. In Hamburg, a quarter of the children live below the poverty line: we therefore have to help the mothers and their families. »

Nina Steffenhagen

The city of Hamburg estimates that today, a quarter of its children live below the poverty line! Fortunately, this town has a very old tradition of social work and charitable actions.
Among the various structures involved in this area, Diakonie was founded 160 years ago by an evangelist theologian.
Since then, it manages several aid services (open to all: believers and nonbelievers) for vagrants, elderly and isolated persons, runaway adolescents, handicapped persons, etc.

At its head office on the Königstraße (King Street), Diakonie has opened a consultancy service for pregnant women. Every year, more than 1800 future mothers come there for advice: it is in fact the only place where they can file an application requesting aid to finance the necessary purchases for the arrival of a baby. 90% of them earn very little and partly depend on public aid. 60% are of foreign origin and often isolated.

Promoting encounters

Yet this work remains insufficient. In 2007, in fact, 1900 persons could not be admitted due to the lack of adequate personnel and space. Diakonie therefore decided to renovate and convert new rooms located on the ground floor of its premises.
Soon, the Königskinder Cafe (Café of the King's Children) will enable the women to stop by for a coffee, meet, buy used clothing and supplies (cradle, push chair, etc.) and attend theme evenings - baby food and care, family law, etc. They can also make appointments with a counselor and participate in the functioning of the structure.

Another service currently being examined: through a survey, Diakonie estimates that two thirds of the counseled women would like to have the accompaniment of a "referent" adult in their daily life. It therefore wants to set up this new possibility with the help of volunteers trained and prepared for this work. They will be able to share their experience, assist the daily tasks, accompany the women in administrative formalities, and others as required, until the child is admitted to nursery or school.
Without even having communicated officially on the subject, a dozen volunteers have already offered their services to participate in this experiment.

Since the month of May 2008, it is planned to assist a hundred or so new families per year using this system. A part-time project coordinator will be hired to run this extension of the premises and of the home.
The grant from the Veolia foundation will help to finance both the new home appliances - washing machine, dryer - and the specialized structures and toys for the babies.