My name is Ulrich. I have spent most of my life in Berlin. I am married and we have two grown-up sons and two grandchildren. In my professional life, I spent most of my time working as a teacher at vocational schools in Berlin and Potsdam. I have been retired for eight years.
Twice a week, I help three children from the neighbourhood of Zukunftshaus Wedding with their homework for a good hour each time, practising and occasionally repeating. I have been doing this since autumn 2015. The children from back then have now become teenagers, and the primary school children have become pupils at secondary schools.
In 2015, I turned to Charisma, the volunteer agency of the church and diaconia. There I had a long conversation with one of the staff members. She then suggested that I contact the family centre in the Paul-Gerhardt-Stift because there was a great demand for voluntary work there, especially in the area of homework help. Although I had mainly dealt with adolescents and young adults during my professional career, after a preliminary discussion I was very quickly willing to help a group of three primary school pupils with their homework. I was able to draw on a certain amount of experience, as I had already worked as a tutor as a student, at that time also to supplement my budget a little, but I also enjoyed it.
„I would advise anyone who is thinking about volunteering: Do it! You give a lot, but you get at least as much back.“
I have been coming to the family centre of Zukunftshaus Wedding twice a week for more than five years now, which is certainly an indication that I like coming. The work with the children, who, as I said, have become teenagers in the meantime, appeals to me very much for various reasons: It has become a bit of a challenge for me professionally, since my own school days were several decades ago, a lot of things are no longer present and I have to repeat them, and in some cases even reacquire them. But I appreciate this challenge. As with every pedagogical activity, effort and toil on the one hand and the joy of the activity on the other are close to each other. As we have been working together in our group for many years, we know each other well and there is a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere. I feel that way, but I think the young people do too. This is shown to me by their willingness and friendliness and also by the fact that they show up regularly and on time. I can help them a little with their homework and they and their parents definitely appreciate that. A good contact to the parents is not completely unimportant for my work, so that occasionally occurring problems can be discussed.
The environment in which I work is also important for my work. By this I mean the good atmosphere in Zukunftshaus, the friendliness and helpfulness with which the staff meet the volunteers. They give us volunteers the certainty that our commitment is also recognised and appreciated by them.
It is a generally accepted fact that social cohesion requires mature, well-informed and committed citizens. They must be prepared to take responsibility for themselves and society and to make responsible use of their freedom. Education and upbringing play a prominent role here. In the effort to help children and young people achieve good school-leaving qualifications, I can perhaps make a small contribution here. Perhaps my voluntary work also has a certain role model function for the young people in terms of social commitment.