Poor people suffer particularly in the corona crisis. A single parent from the Westerwald helps. It all started with a living room full of packages – but it shouldn’t have been.
Packets of sugar are piled up, next to them kilos of flour, toothpaste and bandages. What sounds like a warehouse is not. But the sight of a living room in April – at the first high point of the corona pandemic in Germany. It is the living room of Martina Knopf, a single mother from Waldbrunn (Limburg-Weilburg).
In the corona crisis, Knopf, as a volunteer from “One Worry Less”, provided more than 100 people throughout the Federal Republic with essential goods for everyday life from this living room.
“It was so much that I had to store things in the bedroom at times,” says the 41-year-old. At that time she drove off with a van borrowed from the neighbors and bought kilos of durable food. “There was still a lot left here in the country.”
Donation search on Twitter
The “One Worry Less” project has set itself the goal of helping poor people in Germany through donations with the goods that they lack. Calls are made here, especially via Twitter, and donors are sought – from a still working washing machine to postage and tickets.
And especially in the first phase of the corona crisis, the donations were more necessary than usual. The prices rose, in April alone by almost five percent compared to the previous year. In many places cheap basic food was sold out and the tables were closed. Numerous social and health associations demanded a 100 euro corona surcharge for basic security recipients. The federal government refused.
So “one less worry” jumped in on the people – and Martina Knopf sent parcels over parcels from Waldbrunn to the whole of Germany. “They were whole moving boxes,” she describes the situation. She stopped counting at one hundred recipients.
There were many inquiries even before Corona
The project was founded on Twitter. The IT specialist Konstantin Seefeldt initiated the account @sorgeweniger 2018, after the “#below” debate was initiated in the network. Under this hashtag, numerous users reported what it means to be poor in Germany. “Many specific shortcomings became apparent in the debate. I thought: You have to help out,” says Seefeldt.
Even before Corona, the demand was huge: In addition to the first small aids such as a pair of winter shoes, money for a ticket or meal vouchers, larger inquiries were quickly added, such as the one for a working, used washing machine. “Many still think that he will take over the office. But that has not been the case for a long time,” says Seefeldt.
Even expensive items would have to be siphoned off somewhere with a monthly allowance of just 432 euros from poor old people, the disabled or long-term unemployed. “It is often hardly enough every day.”
Knopf came to the project himself as a victim
Martina Knopf got to know the project herself as a victim. At the end of last year, she was short of cash because of the separation from her partner and unclear maintenance arrangements, she says. “One less thing to worry about” I received a package with the ingredients for the raclette Christmas dinner through the ‘Roast Paten’ campaign – and I was really ripped off my feet, “she says.
“Otherwise I could really only afford the cheapest packaged cheese at the discounter, and suddenly there was cheese from the cheese counter in a package. That made me so happy,” she says. “When resources are scarce, it’s these little things that mean a lot to you and make a lot of things appear in a different light.”
“To give something back”
The 41-year-old thinks that the subject of poverty is not taken seriously enough in Germany. Her father asked her at the time if it was really that bad. She said “yes”: “Sometimes you don’t know how to buy another tube of toothpaste.” This is a particular problem with children.
“You’re not just worried about yourself,” says Knopf. She is now doing better financially. “And now I want to give back a little bit of the relief that was given to me back then by ‘One Worry Less’.”
More than 50,000 euros in donations so far
Currently, there are always a dozen volunteers involved in “One Worry Less”, even if they always switch from project to project, says Seefeldt. And although the project has not been around that long, and it mainly runs on Twitter, more than 50,000 euros in donations have already been raised.
Now this work has been institutionalized: Since the beginning of October the initiative has been an official foundation – the OneWorryLess Foundation. “As a foundation, we want to try to exert a stronger political influence. We can help occasionally, but in order to really make a difference, the causes of poverty have to be tackled structurally,” says Seefeldt. What is meant is the Hartz IV rate, which is far too low in the opinion of the active.
Knopf wants to continue to get involved
Knopf also already has new goals. “My youngest daughter has been at daycare for two weeks. I want to use the time to get even more involved in ‘One Worry Less’.” She no longer sends Corona packages like this, but now she sends food vouchers from a larger grocery chain.
This is also coordinated and financed through the foundation. “If you don’t have a job, live with basic security or are disabled, the money is often not enough in front and behind. Even a 15 euro voucher can be a great relief.”