“Anyone who wants to help will always find a way”

Last year, Krones’ staff for the first time distributed presents to children in homes and with foster families in Regensburg County. The Christmas initiative was a huge success for everyone involved. This year, again for the first time, 150 young refugees will also be receiving presents. We talked to Karl Mooser, who heads Regensburg County’s Youth Welfare Office, about his work and the collaboration with Krones AG.

Karl Mooser, hand on heart – what’s uppermost in your mind at the moment – looking forward to the festive season, or coping with everyday stress?

Of course I’m looking forward to Christmas. But it’s precisely in the run-up to Christmas that the workload is heaviest for us in the Youth Welfare Office. Because of the foggy autumn weather, depression levels rise, parents and children are together at home for longer, with all the resulting potential for conflicts. In families where the parents have separated, there will be arguments about who is allowed to see the kids over Christmas. To put it succinctly: family crises occur more frequently, and we have to intervene more often. After Christmas, things mostly return promptly to normal.

It was exactly one year ago that Krones got together with you to premiere the Christmas present initiative. What has been happening at the Youth Welfare Office since then?

First of all, I should like to express my thanks here to Krones and its staff for this brilliant initiative last year. The feedback from the children and the carers was incredible. It’s not something we should take for granted, that such a big company takes so much trouble.

As is the case everywhere, of course, the dominant issue for us in Regensburg County, too, is the refugees. We at the Youth Welfare Office are responsible for the unaccompanied underage asylum-seekers. Approximately 15,000 young refugees will have arrived in Bavaria by Christmas. In recent months, we’ve had to set up new facilities to provide proper accommodation for the people arriving.

Besides the refugee issue, of course, the daily work of the Youth Welfare Office has to go on. How do you cope with this double remit?

Firstly, we’ve been given additional staff. And the network of government agencies, schools, local councils, and a large number of voluntary helpers works really well here in our county. If we weren’t all pulling together, it would be difficult to cope with all this.

You’re responsible for children’s homes in Regenstauf, Hemau and Kallmünz, and many children living in foster families. Which children are the ones that will be getting the presents from Krones’ staff?

We have children from all strata of the population. There are two categories of background causing a child to be taken away from his/her family and put into care: the reason may firstly lie with the parents: when they are no longer able to look after their children themselves because they are addicted to drugs, alcohol, or are mentally ill, we have to intervene. On the other hand, the cause may also lie with the children. Many parents are no longer able to look after their children by themselves, because of their handicaps, traumatisation, and other psychiatric disorders. The individual back-stories are multi-layered.

How do the carers in the children’s and young people’s homes work with the children?

The workload in a young people’s welfare institution is highly differentiated. First of all, we try to give the kids as normal an everyday structure as possible: having breakfast together, getting ready for school, lunch, leisure activities. But what’s very important, too, is working with the parents. The pedagogic staff work together with parents and children in order to restore an intact relationship. It’s not exceptional for a child to return to his/her own family after a certain time. This, happily, is very often the case.

Do you have enough foster families in Regensburg County?

The demand for foster families is always greater than the supply. We’re always on the lookout for foster families. But, of course, we have to take a long hard look at these families first. There are some excellent examples of foster parents who act out of charitable or Christian motives. But the whole thing has to be very carefully considered and you have to be confident that the child concerned will remain in the family until reaching adulthood.

What options are there for private individuals in general for helping children in homes and with foster families, and young refugees?

There are several options. Donations are always welcome, of course. For the leisure activities of the children in homes, particularly, we can always use more donations. Another option would be to sponsor a child. You would undertake to meet up with a child in your free time for shared activities. The whole thing has to be very carefully considered, of course, you’re taking on a serious responsibility, in that it’s a long-term involvement in conjunction with the institution. When it comes to the refugees, you can always consider mentoring the asylum-seekers in some sort of leisure activity. If you’re in a football club, for instance, you could go with them to the football ground once a week. Anyone eho wants to help will always find a way.