Potsdam – Two tents of the Technical Assistance Agency, a large pot of vegetable soup, some tables and benches to relax: Since yesterday, Wednesday, the city administration has been supporting the food supply of refugees from Ukraine with a point of contact on the city. campus. It is a temporary solution until the planned supply point on Bassinplatz opens at the end of the month, explained on the spot the Social Councilor Brigitte Meier (SPD) of Potsdam. The city responds to a call for help from the Potsdamer Tafel, which has reached its breaking point due to the onslaught.
The number of customers at the Tafel has more than doubled
In addition to the 1,200 regular customers a week, the food bank now also supplies 1,400 refugees from Ukraine, said the bank’s managing director, Imke Eisenblätter. That is significantly more than in 2015, when many war refugees from Syria were accepted into Potsdam. To make matters worse, more Hartz IV retirees and recipients are currently seeking help due to the rise in food prices: that’s ten to 20 new Tafel customers a week.
At the distribution point on Drewitzer Strasse, which is now open six days a week, two counters have already been set up for equalization, reports Tafel’s boss. The huge increase in demand also ensures that all Tafel customers receive less. Because the amount of food donated has not increased as much. On Tuesday, frost had to be imposed on the admission of new refugees, Eisenblatt said. “We can’t just dismiss the others.”
The tent is a temporary solution until a supply point opens on the Bassinplatz
As a short-term alternative, there is now the tent on the city campus. There, the rush at the beginning at 12 was manageable, a volunteer translator from the board helped greet the guests.
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One of them was Maryna Mykolaienko with her seven-year-old son. The 32-year-old language teacher and lawyer from Kyiv did not need a translation because she speaks German. That was also the reason why she decided to flee to Germany, she says. She has lived in Potsdam for about a month and has remained private with friends. Now she is looking for work and housing. She got the tip for the dining tent from the board.
Valeriia Afanasieva also heard about the blackboard’s proposal. The 36-year-old beauty and nail designer from Kyiv fled to Germany with her mother and two children and found a private residence in Stahnsdorf, while her 20-year-old niece from Berdyansk found an apartment in Potsdam. Valeriia Afanasieva hopes to be able to work again soon: she already has her work permit and is waiting for her work tools, which are on the way in the post office. Only the niece finally ate a dish of the vegetable soup.
The offer is aimed at refugees without the opportunity to cook or money
Meier, a social affairs officer, concedes that it remains to be determined how many refugees actually need the food supply. About 100 servings of food were prepared yesterday, in addition to the hot soup, packed lunches with sandwiches and buns with jam and apples. The quantities will be adjusted as required. The offer is aimed primarily at refugees who do not have the opportunity to cook in their residence or who lack the money because they are not yet receiving assistance, for example from the Asylum Benefits Act, Brigitte Meier said.
The influx of refugees has stabilized at present, but it is unclear why, says the social affairs officer. It could have something to do with the upcoming Easter holidays in Ukraine, she suspects: “Anyway, it’s not because of the war.”
More than 2,500 people from Ukraine fled to Potsdam
According to the city, 2,516 Ukrainian refugees are currently registered in Potsdam. 819 are housed in apartments organized across the city, including hotels and guesthouses in addition to the Biosphere and the Metropolitan Hall. According to the reports, 1,643 applications for assistance under the Asylum Seekers Act have been made, more than 1,000 of which have already been approved. It can be assumed that there are often several people behind an application, for example in the case of families.
A new central contact point opens on Bassinplatz next week: there will be advice, an opportunity to wash and dry clothes and distribute food. But even then the refugees will have to go to other addresses for the necessary administrative procedures, the social worker said.
Tafel requires reliable funding from the city
At the same time, the free distribution of food for Ukrainian refugees at the Tafel will end at the end of the month, said Tafel chief Eisenblätter. You then have to re-register and pay a fee of 2 euros as regular customers of Tafel.
Eisenblätter requires reliable funding from the city for the region and the two permanent staff positions. The city currently pays the rent and contributes about 40 percent to the personal costs.