The Netzwerk Berliner Kinderpatenschaften e.V is a network of different actors and associations. Following the tandem principle, they organise the support and supervision of children and engage people who voluntarily want to engage with them. The network currently consists of 33 members. Those work with various target groups (such as socially deprived children, children who are highly talented or traumatised children) and with different points of focus (such as free time, support in schools, or integration).
Whereas some of them focus on specific city quarters, others are active throughout the city of Berlin. This kind of support scheme had not been very renowned up until the beginning of this millennium. Since then, however, mentoring has grown to be ever more popular.
Various actors in this field had often been lone fighters up until this point. They then got to know each other during trainings that were organised by a regional service agency for people working within the field of mentoring. The project initiators all felt a need to exchange their knowledge and were keen on further developing their programmes on a professional level. At the same time, they all realised that mentoring required a lobby and a public voice to support their aims.
According to the claim “Together we are stronger and louder”, the association Netzwerk Berliner Kinderpatenschaften was founded in 2012. Its limitation on programmes that work with children resulted from the fact that a network initiative which dealt with porjects concerning the transition from school -higher education – job already existed.
The network consists of a core team of highly ambitious and responsible coordinators who voluntarily built up this organisation in a very short time. These are its core goals: to further spread the approach of mentoring; a common education and quality management as well as sustainable support of actors within the field of mentoring whose employment is continuously endangered by financing that is organised only over a limited amount of time.
A lot of knowledge has already been passed on to others and some of the existing resources have been bundled together. Mostly responsible for that are the regulars’ table and continuous workshop talks. A good example for the relevance of the Netzwerk Berliner Kinderpatenschaften is the topic of the childrens’ protection One working group field consists of experts who have dealt with paedosexual perpetrators inone way or the other. A concept for protection of the children was formulated. This concept now includes measurements that have to be fulfilled in order to be a member of the network. This creates a starting point from which further quality measures can be developed.
Furthermore, the network has won a competition by the Federal Education Ministry. This has enabled tandems from various membership organisations to become acquainted with the idea of „sustainable development“ in the course of a pilot project Mentoring/Befriending for Sustainable Development. Additionally, a brochure, which informs how to integrate the topic of sustainability into the mentoring relationship, was procuced. The booklet was made accessible to other projects and networks and was asked for by other projects such as from Switzerland.
Moreover, the network initiated the European Mentoring and Befriending Programme (EMBEP). Thanks to this project, actors from five European countries can exchange their experiences. Therewith, new tasks for the Berliner network have become relevant: intensifying lobbying activities in order to prevent the precarious of many renown and widely recognised programmes.
Slowly but surely, mentoring relationships have found a place in the Berliners’ minds and hearts . However, a reliable infrastructure for a children-friendly society, which understads to use such potential, is still missing.