End comes after 15 years in service: Why the railway mission in Bonn has to close

End comes after 15 years in service : Why the railway mission in Bonn has to close

Fewer and fewer people are seeking help on track 1. The permanent construction site at the main railway station is an additional problem. The sponsors want to further promote the commitment of the volunteers.

The railway mission on track 1 of Bonn Central Station closes at the turn of the year. Caritas and Diakonie as sponsors of the facility explained the reasons for the closure on Tuesday. "This is a consequence that corresponds to current needs and is also dueto our premises," said Jean-Pierre Schneider of Caritas. The number of people who approach the volunteers has halved in the past five years.

The railway mission in Bonn has been in existence for 15 years - with only one interruption, which was helpfulthough, at that particular time. When Diakonie and Caritas realised that the servicewas not being well received, they closed the rooms in 2007, only to start again a few months later with a new concept and a full-time director. "That worked well," said Ulrich Hamacher of Diakonie. In 2014 there were more than 6700 contacts - four years later there were just under 3000.

The responsible persons themselves do not know exactly why this is the case. "There are probably many factors," said Hamacher. These include first and foremost the failed concept of the "House of Safety", into which the city and the federal police wanted to move at the railway station. New, better equipped and more prominent rooms would then have been available for the station mission. "Instead, we have been waiting nine years for other premises," reported Gregor Bünnagel, Head of the Mission. The situation is aggravated by the permanent track construction site - those who do not notice the station mission atfirst have to look for it because construction fences and scaffolding block the view.

According to Caritas and Diakonie, traffic has also changed. "Bonn is increasingly becoming a regional and commuter railway station," Schneider said. Accordingly, fewer long-distance travellers would ask for help or coffee. For them, the "Brand Bahnhofsmission", which exists nationwide, has often been the first point of contact. In addition, the station environment had changed and offered many low-threshold-help such as in the City-Station or the Verein für Gefährdetenhilfe (VfG) - more and more people were coming there. "In other railway missions such things are all combined under one roof", Schneider explains.

Deutsche Bahn has always made the rooms available free of charge, and the sponsors shared the costs of around 40,000 Euro per year. About 35 volunteers occupy the shifts between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., sometimes earlier or later. "They want to continue their commitment, we don't want to stop this service," Schneider said. The hope that the railway mission could continue in some way has not yet been lost.

(Original text: Nicolas Ottersbach / Translation: Mareike Graepel)