Neighbourhood Mothers Neukölln – Stadtteilmütter Neukölln: integrating immigrant mothers via local women

An outreach programme assists and trains mothers from Berlin’s Neukölln neighbourhood to help newly-arrived immigrant mothers to Germany settle in their new home country.

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Ceremony with new Neighbourhood Mothers © Bezirksamt Neukölln Ceremony with new Neighbourhood Mothers © Bezirksamt Neukölln

" The neighbourhood mothers are an integral part of Neukölln. They play an important role in Neukölln´s integration policy. We need the neighbourhood mothers, especially in the current situation, to integrate the newly arrived refugee families. "

District Mayor Dr. Franziska Giffey

“Neighbourhood mothers”, known as “Stadtteilmütter in Neukölln” in Germany, is a grassroots outreach project aimed at facilitating access to information and services that help families from immigrant backgrounds with young children of up to 12 years old. It was launched in 2004 in Berlin’s Neukölln area with 12 Turkish mothers receiving training to support newly-arrived mothers. It has now become a network of over 70 neighbourhood mothers from all different nationalities and helps to integrate families and create a cohesive community.

The project takes place in an area where nearly half of the current population is foreign-born. Many immigrants are from Turkey, Arabic-speaking countries, Romania and Bulgaria. Many schools in the area have a very high percentage of children who do not speak German as their first language.

Becoming a neighbourhood mother

To be employed as a neighbourhood mother, a mother must: be unemployed, of an immigrant background (often Turkish or Arabic), have good knowledge of German, have passed the training and be living in one of the covered regions.

Under the scheme, a neighbourhood mother receives training and then visits mothers in recently arrived or isolated families. Neighbourhood mothers encourage the other mothers to attend women’s groups and to make use of local childcare facilities, and to learn German. They also provide support to school-aged children. The advice and support is provided by people from a similar background to the immigrant mothers, which builds trust and confidence. A family is visited ten times.

The programme also works with local childcare centres, ‘parent cafes’, school-based youth centres, school officials and teachers.

Empowering vulnerable groups

The rise in immigration has led to problems, such as the isolation of immigrants from the community, pressure on local schools and difficulties in reaching out to families who do not necessarily speak German.

This project empowers women on both sides of the relationship: newcomers receive valuable advice, information and gain confidence, while neighbourhood mothers gain employment income and status. The support benefits the local community, increases integration, and boosts interaction with immigrant families and social cohesion.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Neighbourhood Mothers" is EUR 2.725.463, from which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributes with EUR 1.050.828 from the Operational Programme “Berlin” for the 2007 to 2013 and 2014 to 2020 programming periods.

Draft date