Legal status: Non-profit organization (e.V.)
Current locations (18): Hamburg, Oldenburg, Bremen, Berlin, Dresden, Potsdam, Leipzig, Freiburg, Stuttgart, Lampertheim, Mannheim, Landau, Tübingen, Köln, Bonn, Aachen,
Employees: 10 (full- and/or part time), 24 Fellows starting in March 18
Voluntary locals: Over 3,200
Voluntary intercultural mediators: Over 200
Tandems: Over 3,200
Funding: Donations and financial support through the program “Menschen stärken Menschen” of the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth
Start with a Friend is a charitable organization that promotes societal participation of refugees. We support refugees by pairing them with locals into so called "tandem partnerships". We
bring them together with locals to help them one on one with the new challenges they are facing in Germany because we believe that integration can only work if people get a chance to play an
active role in society. We promote encounters that are personal and uncomplicated, as well as long-term connections as equals.
Start with a Friend was founded by a group of voluntaries in Berlin in 2014. Franziska Birnbach had the idea when she entered a tandem partnership with a Syrian refugee herself. The tandem was
rewarding but challenging at the same time. She could have used a contact person on a technical and an emotional level. She developed the plan to create friendship relationships between refugees
and locals together with her friends Marten Kaspar and Sarah Rosenthal. Their professional background helped them with that: Franziska and Marten are both jurists with a special focus on asylum
law. Sarah is an economist with a focus on integration and a qualified communications manager. This laid the groundwork for Start with a Friend and in 2015, more and more committed volunteers
joined their team.
So far, we have opened locations in Hamburg, Oldenburg, Bremen, Berlin, Dresden, Potsdam, Leipzig, Freiburg, Stuttgart, Lampertheim, Mannheim, Landau, Tübingen, Köln, Bonn, Aachen, Frankfurt,
Düsseldorf. More locations are being planned. We focus on areas where there is an actual need for a tandem project like ours.
Start with a Friend wants to give everyone a chance to participate according to their personal interests. We create a framework for such a commitment to organize life around family, job, and
voluntary work. There are different ways to become active with Start with a Friend: If you want to get in contact with refugees, you can sign up as a tandem partner (local). If you'd like to
train your intercultural competences, you can become an intercultural mediator or join a local Event or PR-Team. Time management is always highly flexible and the role customized according to
In all of Germany, Start with a Friend has been able to initiate more than 3,200 tandem partnerships since the official launch in April 2015. (updated February 2018)
Start with a Friend e.V. is a registered and charitable organization based in Berlin. Our statutory purposes are helping refugees and empowering civic commitment. Since January 2016, the
organization has been co-financed by a program of the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs titled “Menschen stärken Menschen”. This is an important part of the financing to make SwaF more
professional and help our other locations financially. Another important factor in financing are donations from companies and private persons. Support Start with a Friend and get involved for a
better togetherness in society. Your donation will be highly appreciated: Here.