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Diakoniewerk Arbeit & Kultur - Work Insertion

Author: Louise Pulford
Published Date: 22 February 2010

Diakoniewerk Arbeit & Kultur gGmbH was set up in 1985 to run a small number of employment measures funded by the regional labour office, but has since expanded into a social enterprise which provides wrap around services for social welfare in the community.


Diakoniewerk Arbeit & Kultur gGmbH (or the ‘deacon’s activities for work and culture’) in Mülheim is a fairly typical example of a German Work Insertion Social Enterprise (WISE). It was set up in 1985 to run a small number of employment measures funded by the regional labour office but has since expanded into a social enterprise which provides wrap around services for social welfare in the community. Its three main activities are to get marginalised job seekers back into work; to buy, restore and sell low-priced second hand recycled products (including clothes and furniture) to those on low incomes; and to redistribute recovered unused food in local shops and supermarkets to those in need and it runs a ‘culture shuttle’, providing elderly people with subsidised tickets to cultural events for those who would not otherwise be able to afford the admission fee.


More recently, with the assistance of the local social service department, Diakoniewerk has set up a project in which homeless men are renovating a local building which will house a museum and has established sub-department for job placement and a social work unit that cares for the personal needs of the employees who frequently have addiction or debt difficulties. The centre is also becoming a community hub in which local residents can meet.


Diakoniewerk was originally run with backing from the local protestant church and two foundations, and a small number of employment programmes were run by the regional labour office. It is now an independent non-profit company limited by guarantee employing approximately 250 people on mainly fixed term contracts and receives wage subsidies from the local social assistance office.