Voluntary work comes in many shapes and forms

15th startsocial competition Voluntary work comes in many shapes and forms

Chancellor Angela Merkel has recognised the work of 25 initiatives and action groups engaged in voluntary social work. A special prize went to the Karlsruhe-based Elektriker ohne Grenzen (Electricians without Borders), which works in some of poorest regions of the world.

The Chancellor presents a cheque for EUR 5,000 to representatives of Elektriker ohne Grenzen (Electricians without Borders)

The Chancellor’s special award went to Elektriker ohne Grenzen (Electricians without Borders)

Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler

“All of you deserve our recognition because you bring a bit more humanity to our society. I believe that focusing not only on our own concerns, but looking beyond them to other people and to their needs holds society together,” declared Chancellor Angela Merkel, when she greeted participants.

“We experience humanity, when somebody cares, when somebody stretches out their hand to us, when somebody listens to us – in the family, in the neighbourhood, within associations and action groups,” continued Angela Merkel.

Across Germany, more than 30 million people are engaged in voluntary work. They play an instrumental part in ensuring social cohesion and coexistence.

The award winners

The 25 initiatives judged to be most worthy of recognition were invited to the award ceremony at the Federal Chancellery. The six winners were presented with a cheque for EUR 5,000.

The award winners of the 15th startsocial competition were

  • Back on Track e.V. from Berlin
  • Medizinische Flüchtlingshilfe from Düsseldorf
  • Menschenzauber e.V. from Magdeburg
  • Obstkäppchen e.V. from Hennef
  • Rent a Jew from Berlin
  • Zeltschule e.V. from Munich

The initiatives work in a wide range of projects in fields as diverse as education, migration, religion, social participation and health promotion. They demonstrate the diversity of voluntary engagement across Germany and reflect current trends and challenges in society.

The Chancellor’s special award

The Karlsruhe-based Elektriker ohne Grenzen (Electricians without Borders) had every reason to be happy. They won the Chancellor’s special award. “Special initiatives deserve special attention and support. And they also deserve special awards,” said Angela Merkel.

The electricians without borders, whose motto is “Energy drives Development” have been working in the poorest parts of the world since 2012. In close cooperation with local organisations and tradespersons they install renewable-powered electricity supplies – giving people access to education, clear water and medical care. The know-how transfer and the involvement of the local people is a vital key to finding a sustainable solution to the specific problems in each case.

“Electricians without Borders brings light to people’s everyday life,” said the Chancellor, and congratulated the award winners.

The association “startsocial – Hilfe für Helfer” runs an annual nationwide competition in recognition of those who work to resolve social problems, primarily on a voluntary basis. The best 100 project concepts are accorded a four-month advisory scholarship. Experts from the realms of business, from the public sector and from social welfare institutions work with the individual initiatives to help them realise their aims and take their work to the next level. Finally, the best initiatives are invited to Berlin and awards are presented. Since 2005 the Chancellor has been patron of startsocial.