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Bosch associates in Austria support refugees in their everyday lives

In 2015, more than one million people filed for asylum in Europe. This was one of the biggest migration movements in the continent’s history, and it was met with an unprecedented willingness to help. Bosch was among those who offered support, and it has since kept up its commitment to helping refugees in the process of integration. In 2015, Bosch associates donated some 400,000 euros, and the company more than doubled the total sum. The funds have gone toward supporting over 100 refugee aid initiatives. One of them is the “Support vor Ort: Bosch-MitarbeiterInnen helfen!” (Local support: Bosch associates are helping out). The project was launched at the Vienna location at the end of 2015. It is based on the idea that successful integration requires a lasting commitment. For two years now, Bosch associates have helped people who have been granted refugee status navigate the challenges of daily life in Austria.

Today, 25 volunteers support 40 children and their families with visits to the authorities. They also act as confidants and help refugees build new friendships in their host community. Ultimately, the initiative aims to help participants help themselves, enabling them to lead an independent life in a new country. At the first meeting in wintery Vienna, most of the participants were “still very shy and didn’t speak much,” says Joanna Hummelbrunner, head of HR at Bosch Austria and the project’s initiator. One of the first steps was to find a German teacher for the Vienna location.

Since then, language barriers have largely been overcome. What is more, the project inspired Bosch associates to offer extra help in other subjects as well. Their efforts have borne fruit: some of the project participants have found permanent jobs in Austria at ÖBB, Eurest, Fond Soziales Wien, amongst others. In fact, 6 of them now work at Bosch. Project participants often engage in activities beyond job-related initiatives:  the project has been a guest at coffee houses, and participants have organized an Afghan dinner, played in a soccer tournament, and spent an evening at Vienna’s Prater amusement park. Johanna Hummelbrunner is pleased with the results of the project: “The people we supported have really developed and been able to integrate on an educational and professional level. In so doing, they have not only learned a great deal, they have also made friends that they may keep for life.” 

More information about the project can be found here