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‘HelpNet’ is a network that provides all kinds of everyday care and home help. The service is intended to support elderly and disabled people, as well as the infirm, in managing their lives and enable them to remain independent in their own homes for as long as possible. Through ‘HelpNet’ locals can contact home helps (including cleaning and shopping) and carers assisting with everyday tasks (managing doctor’s appointments and visits to the authorities, going for walks, doing small repairs etc.). The helpers are people on low incomes seeking employment and/or recipients of unemployment benefit (Arbeitslosengeld II). Most of them come from the Social City Area. They will have an induction session and training in their duties and tasks, and will be covered for liability and accident insurance for this part-time work. The Caritas Social Contact and Network Office puts people in touch with the ‘HelpNet’.

The project was initiated in 1999 as part of the ‘Social City’ renewal scheme in Unterliederbach-Ost ‘Engelsruhe’. At the time, a quarter of the district’s population was over 65 and care facilities were extremely poor. Moreover, in the area, desperately in need of redevelopment, many of the people had low incomes (single parents, low earners, unemployed) and were obliged to earn some extra money on the side.

The Caritas association of the St. Johannes parish put the project together with the district management and the Caritasverband Frankfurt am Main. In 2004-5 initial support was implemented under the terms of the LOS funding scheme. The project was fleshed out as a ‘Neue Partnerschaften für die Soziale Stadt’ (New partnerships for the Social City) further down the line. Until April 2011 it received funding from the Social City’s HEGISS innovation scheme, which is related to the program. In 2012 Caritasverband Frankfurt e.V. assumed patronage of the scheme which coincided with extending the HelpNets throughout the city. The cooperation with the parish will be continued.

In 2010-11 a total of 105 helpers worked some 12,000 hours in providing assistance with the shopping, cleaning, laundry, ironing etc. in Unterliederbach. These services were provided in 90 homes regularly – and in 30 homes on an as-needed basis. The model project got off to a very successful start, with an additional nine HelpNets in place by 2012. They are affiliated with the City of Frankfurt’s parishes.