Astrid Fülling has never done voluntary work in her life – until she came across the group “Essen anckt an”.
“No, I had enough to do with my children and my job, I never did any voluntary work,” reports Astrid Fülling. Then the now 68-year-old came across the group “Essen anckt an” and her life took quite a new direction. Astrid Fülling’s commitment is to be presented here as representative of the group.
“Due to health problems, I was unable to work for a while in 2014 and was simply bored. That’s when I came across the ‘Essen tackle an’ initiative,” remembers “Apri”, as it is called in “Essen tackle an”. Interest was piqued.
“Helping those in need keeps our society together.”
Frank Skrube Head of Marketing Wohnbau eG
When her health improved again, she got on board, and with a lot of commitment: “I took over the organization of various projects such as annual celebrations, warehouse moves, flea markets or the children’s Christmas table and picked up and sorted the donations with friends,” she looks back. She remembers her first major action well: “It was to help those affected by an apartment fire in Frohnhausen,” says the woman from Frillendorf. A call for donations brought an enormous response, after a short time the Frohnhauser “Friesenstube” was no longer sufficient as a warehouse. New accommodation options had to be found and, above all, someone who kept track of things, drummed for donations and distributed them. “So I said, okay, I can do that,” says Astrid Fülling.
The food donations are kept fresh in refrigerators.
Photo: Food tackles
To understand what keeps them busy for between four and five hours each day of the week, you need to know a little more about food. Active in various fields in the early years, the work of the rather loose association of volunteers concentrated on supporting the homeless and other needy people. The initiative is visible on Tuesdays and Saturdays, between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., when warm meals, fresh vegetables, hot coffee, hygiene items or clothing, sleeping bags and more are passed on near the market church in the city center.
This has become known far beyond the city limits under the title “Warm through the night” and through the mobile “soup bike”. Between 70 and 120 needy people are cared for at each appointment. “We now have a permanent location that our clientele is familiar with,” explains Astrid Fülling. The Rewe supermarkets Köster/Rellinghausen and Stilleke/Überruhr as well as the bakery Gräler/Überruhr ensure fresh goods are served, the warm meals are provided by the kitchens of the “ATLANTIC Congress Hotel Essen” in Rüttenscheid and the “Haus Reichwein” in Überruhr as well as sporadic donors.
Considering two proper warehouses and several additional storage options, that’s quite a lot of logistics to manage. “Today, I mainly take care of the smooth running of the issue on our key dates and the order in the warehouses, combined with the collection and acceptance of donations,” describes Astrid Fülling.
One can add: She is also on the road for the Essen group of the “Foodsharing” initiative, collecting and distributing food.
Not enough? Now retired, “Apri” and others organize the consultation hours of “Essen anckt an” in the shop “Lokalfieber” on I. Weberstraße, on Wednesdays between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. When there are donations to be sifted through, she is often called and – this also happens – she receives “cries for help” when people in need are sighted. Then she is only at home at night.
Astrid Fülling keeps the warehouse full of donations in order.
Photo: Food tackles
Before she started volunteering, she had no contact with the homeless. “That’s a very special type of person. But I’ve never had any problems with it. Don’t expect gratitude in every case. And you must never give the impression that you are giving alms,” she says.
Your view of society has changed fundamentally in recent years. “I would have said before that nobody in Germany has to starve or be homeless. Now I know: the social network is a lot more full of holes than you think. And the offers of help are often too complicated,” says the volunteer.
The community, the feeling of helping and the knowledge of doing something right are what drives her. And sometimes it is the encounters, such as the regular conversations with a young homeless man who is in a wheelchair, that give something back to her too. “You can say that my life has changed quite a bit in the last few years.”
“Essen anckt an” is a community of up to 70 active volunteers and sporadic helpers who are not organized in an association. In addition to the stationary offers (see article), the initiative is also notified in emergencies – especially in winter. Then, among other things, warming sleeping bags or clothing are distributed. The biggest wish of the activists is a shop/an apartment in the inner city area with toilet and shower and washing facilities for the homeless. information below www.essenpacktan.ruhr.
Every contribution counts
Wohnbau eG and FUNKE present everyday heroes The story of Astrid Fülling is one of many in our everyday hero series. “This is another prime example of everyday heroes who help those who need it most,” says Frank Skrube, Head of Marketing at Wohnbau eG. “A project worthy of imitation.” Together with FUNKE, the housing cooperative went in search of people who could do extraordinary things in voluntary work – just everyday heroes.
“Many people are socially committed without really talking about it,” says Frank Skrube. “We wanted to put some of them in the limelight as representatives.” In order to give suggestions for all those who would also like to get involved but do not yet know in which area – and what a first step could look like. One thing is certain: Social coexistence only works really well with social commitment, with words and above all deeds. With people for people. Especially in difficult times. Frank Skrube has hope: “For a long time we all thought more about ourselves. However, the current crises, above all the war in Ukraine, have led to a change in values and the desire to be there for one another again. We are more interested in our fellow human beings again. At least that’s how I perceive it. And every contribution is important.” Information on volunteering is available from the
Volunteer Agency Essen
Phone: 8 39 14 90