Legal status: Charitable organization
Current locations: Berlin, Cologne, Freiburg and the region Hochschwarzwald, Oldenburg, Dresden, Hamburg, Bonn, Aachen, Frankfurt and Potsdam.
Voluntary employees: more than 2,500
Financing: 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 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 Berlin, Freiburg and the region Hochschwarzwald, Cologne, Oldenburg, Hamburg, Aachen, Potsdam, Bonn, Frankfurt and Dresden. More locations are
being planned. We focus on areas where there is an actual need for a tandem project like ours. Existing groups of helpers can contact us and our organization will support them professionally
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. If you'd like to train your
intercultural competences, you can become an intercultural mediator at the SwaF Academy. And if you want to contribute your professional expertise, you can become a member of the SwaF task force.
Time management is always highly flexible and the role customized according to your situation.
In all of Germany, Start with a Friend has been able to initiate more than 1,450 tandem partnerships since the official launch in April 2015. (updated November 2016)
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