The project "Warm Home" is aimed at victims of Nazi persecution with an immigrant background, particularly at Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union. The basic principle of "Warm Homes" is that people with the same cultural and linguistic background meet for socialising in the private home of a volunteer host. The companionship there strengthens the self-confidence of the participants in the long run and promotes their integration into the new society.
The concept of "Warm Home" has its roots in Israel and was developed there in response to the difficulty of the integration process for older immigrants from the former Soviet Union. The employees of JDC/Eshel, an organization in Israel committed to improving the living situation of older people, became convinced that integration cannot be decreed, but that it is rather a lengthy process. To ensure its success, strengthening the identity and the self-confidence of migrants is crucial because, in this way, it will become easier for them to integrate into a society that, for the most part, is completely new to them. Therefore, the basic principle of "warm home" is that people with the same cultural and linguistic background meet in private rooms to keep cultural roots and collective experiences alive. This is not only for the purpose of nurturing the shared communalities of the participants, but socialising with people of the same cultural background also helps to reinforce the self-confidence of the individual, and, as a consequence, their integration into the new society is alleviated.
Today, we also have many elderly immigrants from the former Soviet Union in Germany, who had to witness the Second World War and the impact of the Nazi dictatorship. Since they often lead a socially isolated life and need help with their integration process, the “Bundesverband” has begun to transfer the idea of "Warm Homes" to Germany. With the help of our project partner, JDC/Eshel, and the local synagogue, it was possible to establish this warm-hearted and joyful opportunity for fellowship in Cologne too. Since 2009, people from the various parts of the former Soviet Union now regularly meet in a private apartment in Cologne-Chorweiler for a cosy get-together. The participants, who come from different states of the former Soviet Union, increasingly learn to understand and accept each other. At their meetings, they connect at a deep level, share their joys and sorrows with each other, and solve everyday problems together. Aside from that, a network has been formed among the participants of "Warm Home". As a result, they help each other when the situation requires it; they are in contact with each other by phone; they know how the others are doing; and in addition to the events at the "Warm Home", they have come up with countless other joint activities (celebrations, excursions and cultural visits). These regularly scheduled get-togethers help the senior immigrants deal with their emotional and social problems and encourage them on their path of integration into the new society. The participants’ potential needs for consultation are also covered and partly met by the employees of the Transfer Agency NRW (North Rhine-Westphalia).
A second "Warm Home" in Cologne Porz-Finkenberg is being established at the moment.