The Bike Self-Repair Workshop and Trainings:
The Integrationswerkstatt started off simply as a space where community members could learn to repair their own bicycles, and perhaps share a coffee, thereby fostering contact between Germans and refugees. It has evolved include much more, including bicycle safety and road safety training (the bike being the main transit method used by new refugees in our town, many of whom have never ridden before, and all of whom are unfamiliar with German road rules) and even bicycle repair trainings with certificates from the German Bicycle Club (ADFC) that are the first step towards breaking into the job market.
Breaking into the workforce in Germany is incredibly difficult for foreigners. The refugees in the project will gain skills and certifications as a first step to access the German job market. Those who help teach others how to repair their bicycles will be trained by professional associations. In these trainings, not only will they learn vital skills, but also documentation of their training, proving experience with technical work in Germany. Additionally, those who regularly work in the workspace as monitors and assistants will receive documentation of the work as an internship.
Today the Integrationswerkstatt operates with a stock of $3,000 worth of bicycle repair tools, sufficient space for 5 people to undertake their bike repairs simultaneously, and nearly a dozen spare bicycles for either trainings or parts. Thanks to the help of the community of Unkel and a private donation from an avid bicycle enthusiast from the United States, the bicycle-repair element of this project is attainable at a basic level with volunteer labor. In addition to job training and certification, this project element serves as an opportunity for Germans to actually gain the experience of working with their new neighbors.