During the first year and a half, querstadtein was established by a team of volunteers. Meanwhile, it has flourished into a small social enterprise with three permanent employees and twelve tour guides.
On our tours, people who are usually rather talked ABOUT have their say. Our formerly homeless tour guides report about life without a roof over their heads. They present the public spaces and locations where they once lived. New Berliners and new Dresdeners who have fled Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq share their perspectives on their new hometowns.
The tours through different districts and neighbourhoods offer room for dialogue and the opportunity to overcome reservations and reconsider one’s own prejudices.
querstadtein e.V. is a non-profit association. The association aims at promoting popular and professional education according to § 52 section 2 number 7 of the Tax Code. Download the statutes of the association as a PDF file here.
querstadtein e.V. is a member of the Berlin association AK Wohnungsnot.
Our founders Katharina Kühn and Sally Ollech observe the gulf between homeless people and mainstream society. They want to bring the two groups in contact. Their idea: formerly homeless people give tours through the streets that were once their home. The aim is to give first-hand insights into the situation of those affected by homelessness, to reduce prejudices, to create a platform for encounters and to provide previously homeless people with an additional income.
The two founders submit their concept to the competition startsocial, which supports social projects with economic know-how, and begin to implement their project.
querstadtein wins the startsocial scholarship which implies free advice and counselling. In March, 13 team members found the association Stadtsichten e.V. and launch cooperations with players such as the Berliner Stadtmission and the homeless magazine strassenfeger. The first tour starts in June with city guide Carsten Voss. He is later joined by Uwe Tobias.
For this project, the team of volunteers is awarded the FES prize for social commitment. At the same time, the founders continue to develop querstadtein as a social enterprise: At the Social Impact Start Pitch, they win a free coaching and two places in the Social Impact Lab.
At the end of the first year, querstadtein can look back upon some 3,000 participants. In March, the first full-time position is created with funds of the Auerbach Foundation. At events discussing the problem of homelessness, the team contributes its expertise; querstadtein becomes a member of the AK Wohnungsnot, a Berlin-based committee on housing problems.
Dieter Bichler joins the city guides with a tour through the neighbourhood City-West. The feedback of the tour participants increasingly shows us that querstadtein succeeds in changing their attitude and behaviour towards homeless people in everyday life.
Together with Uwe Tobias, the team develops a city tour for children. In July, Klaus Seilwinder makes his tour debut. querstadtein is honoured by the Robert Bosch Foundation within the programme Die Verantwortlichen (The Responsibles).
With Refugees show their Berlin, querstadtein establishes a second group of city guides. This wins them the scholarship ANKOMMER. Perspektive Deutschland (together with the Sharehaus Refugio). The office now moves to its new location in the Refugio.
Total city tours: 208.
As of March, guided city tours are funded as a model project by the Federal Agency for Civic Education. Samer Serawan, Arij Oudeh and Firas Zakri are the first tour guides from Syria to offer tours through Neukölln in English. They are soon joined by Ahmad Oudeh and Hamdi al Kasar. Nafee Kurdis’ tour through Berlin city centre starts in December.
Total city tours: 417.
Mohamad Khalil now offers the tour through Neukölln in German. Wael Alafandi adds a refugee tour through Berlin city centre. Meanwhile, the office grows into a three-person team.
The founders hand over the baton to a new management team: In May, new board members Sandra Brandt, Andreas Schlamm and Marvin Wiek take up their post. In September, Selina Byfield joins querstadtein as Managing Director.
Total city tours: 628.
The bpb funding continues for the third year running – a great opportunity to grow beyond the borders of Berlin: In late April, the project Refugees show their Dresden is launched. Furthermore, with the support of the Berliner Sparkasse Foundation we are able to organize 45 free homeless tours for school classes from Berlin.
In August the association’s name is officially changed to querstadtein e.V.
Total city tours: 673
We develop new tours on both topics homelessness and flight & asylum. In Dresden, we conduct city tours especially for young people from Saxony in the project #angekommen (supported by the state programme Weltoffenes Sachsen für Demokratie und Toleranz) and develop accompanying material with lesson plans.
With the support of the Berliner Sparkasse Foundation we can offer 50 free tours for pupils from Berlin this year. An absolute highlight: our city tours on the subject of homelessness for pupils are awarded with the David-Preis of the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe and the Deutscher Engagement-Preis.
Total number of city tours: 770
Unfortunately, more than half of our tours were cancelled. So instead, we have developed innovative, digital formats in order to continue to reach a large number of people. As part of the digital city tour on the topic of “stories of contract workers”, we take a critical look at the situation of contract workers from Vietnam and Mozambique who came to Saxony, as well at the issues that still affect their children´s generation today. Our new digital tour about “Life on the Streets” is independent of any specific location. At the end of these online seminars there are personal encounters with the city tour guides.
Together with the Berliner Stadtmission and supported by the Deutsche Bahn Stiftung, we are developing the audio tour Stimmen vom Bahnhof Zoo / Voices from Bahnhof Zoo Train Station: At different locations from Bahnhof Zoo to Ku´Damm avenue, Jenny, Erhard, Anton and Blümchen describe their daily lives without their own home.
Two new city tours are starting: Abuhanna shares his views about the vibrant neighbourhood Neukölln. On Muhammed’s tour, you can learn about the upheavals in the European asylum system and how old and new Berliners shape their neighborhoods.
Total analog city tours: 243
Total digital city tours: 332
The year has started with a lot of energy and a new project! Thanks to funding from the Postcode Lottery we can work on ensuring that our tours are pandemic-proof. We are improving our digital offerings and are looking for new methods and target groups.
The aim: For the personal stories of our city guides about forced migration, displacement and homelessness to reach an even larger audience.
As part of the network Migration Lab we are able to connect to other stakeholders from science and other peers, in order to develop projects together. We are supported by the Foundation Stiftung Erinnerung, Verantwortung, Zukunft.
At the beginning of the year, Jennifer Fielding takes over as managing director.
Two of our projects are aimed at children and young people: The Joachim Herz Foundation ensures that even more schoolchildren can benefit from our children’s tours on migration and homelessness. The Stiftung Berliner Sparkasse is also sponsoring guided tours for school classes in Berlin, which will be able to take part in our educational program free of charge again this year.
New tours are being planned — we are working on a focus on climate migration and postcolonial perspectives on migration and the city of Berlin.
At the end of the year, Katrin Elsemann joins the board. We thank Silvine Gerlach-Höbing for her many years of service as a board member.
Uwe celebrates his 1,000th tour with long-time companions and accompanied by press reporters.
The MONOM Stiftung supports us with the “Kleine Hilfe” grant, with which we can pay an inflation bonus to all our employees.
Muhammed Lamin’s tour “Kreuzberg behind the Scenes: The Making of a Diverse Neighborhood” is awarded in the 2022 “Aktiv für Demokratie und Toleranz” competition.
Total analog city tours: 537 groups
Total digital city tours: approx. 1100 people
For 10 years querstadtein has offered city tours that give participants the chance to change their attitude towards minorities. And so far around 100,000 participants have taken up this offer. This is an achievement that we would like to celebrate in a variety of ways.
Unfortunately, our topic has lost none of its relevance as there is a great lack of housing not only in Berlin. This we take as an incentive to discuss the problem on October 10th “World Homeless Day” in a wider forum.
Our ongoing cooperation with the Stiftung Berliner Sparkasse and the Joachim Herz Stiftung is a great success and enables us to offer 90 free tours to educational institutions this year.
In addition, we are working intensively on the development of new tours on various topics, which can be joined from the second half of the year.
We are continuing our work on our exhibition contribution on the topic of “Here and now. Women* experiencing homelessness in Berlin” for the exhibition BERLIN GLOBAL in the Humboldt Forum. The opening of our space is on the 20th October, it can be visited till the 31.03.2025.