Living life to the full, despite disability: The Lebenshilfe Wohnenmission
In Germany, just under eight million people live with a physical or mental disability.* Whether it is down to old age, an illness or simply an accident – we often overlook the fact that any of us can suffer such a cruel twist of fate. Coping on a day-to-day basis can become a real challenge. In addition to the physical limitations, those living with disability are often also confronted with prejudice and stigmas.
Making a positive change to this situation is a cause close to the heart of the family of OeTTINGER distribution employee Jochen Klomp. His wife has worked as a social care worker for the non-profit organization “Lebenshilfe Wohnen” in Mönchengladbach since 2009, a group whose mission is to promote societal inclusion for people living with disability. As early as 1966, this organization has offered heartfelt care to disabled people, as well as providing them with advice and support in all matters of everyday life. Nowadays, 130 employees work for “Lebenshilfe Wohnen”, with more than 80 volunteers also on hand. Jochen Klomp also spends some of his free time with the organization, for example in helping to arrange events and day trips, but also by offering regular support to his neighbors – a care home affiliated to “Lebenshilfe Wohnen” is situated directly opposite Jochen’s own home. He therefore knows exactly the kind of difficulties that disabled people often face in their day-to-day lives. Jochen Klomp summarizes his motivation for helping: “Unfortunately, it often comes to pass that people are judged by appearances. But everyone is equal. This message is brought to life at Lebenshilfe Wohnen. And it’s also very important to me that our young daughter is raised with these values.”
Greater tolerance and self-determination for people with disabilities – this is also a cause for “Lebenshilfe Wohnen”. There are regular meetings and joint activities with able-bodied people; an annual highlight each year is the Shrove Tuesday parade. The interaction between carers and residents is all very harmonious, while the positive atmosphere can be felt everywhere. Jochen Klomp explains with pride: “We do everything that people need in order to lead a completely normal life. Every day, we look into so many happy faces. We enjoy these moments, because for our work, they are reward and motivation at the same time.”
Thanks to the “personnel development program” offered by OeTTINGER Brewery in Mönchengladbach, “Lebenshilfe Wohnen” can now look forward to a donation of EUR 1,250. “With this money, we intend to above all ensure that we continue to improve the living situation of many people. We would like to install entry aids and lifts for bathtubs, as many residents are unable to manage this on their own. However, a tandem bike has long been on our wishlist too. This would allow disabled people to enjoy cycling together with carers”, Klomp explains. “I am simply incredibly proud of everyone who devotes their time towards creating a sense of harmonious, social togetherness. The fruits of our labors are there for all to see in joint celebrations, but also in everyday life. The joy in the eyes of people says more than a thousand words!”
An additional EUR 1,250 from the OeTTINGER personnel development program was given to Heinz Bässler, who works in fleet management. He will use the proceeds to support the St. Bartholomäus booster club nursery.
*Source: German Federal Statistical Office, Press Release No. 228, June 25, 2018.