The Gift of Care: Corona Emergency Relief Fund

by German Red Cross / Deutsches Rotes Kreuz
The Gift of Care: Corona Emergency Relief Fund
Nov 19, 2020

Interim Report GRC Corona Emergency Relief Fund

The Corona Emergency Relief Fund was set up by the German Red Cross Headquarters in March 2020 to provide support to people in need throughout the Corona pandemic, for as long as it lasts, according to the principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. As of November 2020, many of the projects implemented with the funds collected are still ongoing.

1. Best Practice from the DRK Local Branches

Emergency Services 

DRK Telephone Hotline for Worries and Sorrow
Branch: Regional Association Schleswig-Holstein (Landesverband Schleswig-Holstein)
This offer of the DRK regional association of Schleswig-Holstein is designed to help overcome problems during the Corona pandemic, which challenges everyone on many different levels. The aim is to be there for people in this special time and to support them in coping with difficult life situations. In solution-oriented talks the DRK-Landesverband aims to help those seeking advice to solve their problems, and to discuss possible steps and methods on how to cope with the situation.

Medical Hotline / Citizens' Hotline
Branch: District Association Aalen (Kreisverband Aalen)
The DRK-Kreisverband Aalen has set up a citizens' telephone. It answers questions about the services of the Red Cross in the old district of Aalen as well as the possibilities for help. It is also possible to order e.g. meals on wheels.

Medical Care in the “Domwache”
Branch: District Association Hamburg Altona & Mitte (Kreisverband Hamburg Altona & Mitte)
The service provided by the DRK-Kreisverband Hamburg Altona is an offer of health care in dignity for homeless people (e.g. dressing changes, wound care, measurement of different vital parameters). In times of a pandemic, access to the health care system for this group could be particularly difficult.

Auxiliary Staff Training
Branch: Regional Association Rhineland-Palatinate (Landesverband Rheinland-Pfalz)
The educational institute of the DRK-Landesverband Rhineland-Palatinate offers trainings of auxiliary staff. This qualification entitles the holder to carry out supporting activities in the outpatient care and in hospital. The newly trained persons can thus support in staff shortage situations in nursing homes, hospitals, or auxiliary hospitals.

Special Vehicle Covid-19
Member Society: District Association Aalen (Kreisverband Aalen)
The rescue service of the DRK-Kreisverband Aalen is supported by a special ‘Covid-19-Vehicle’. This vehicle is equipped with special protective equipment to be able to carry out transport for people suffering from Covid-19.

Mobile Emergency Services
Branch: District Association Wanzleben (Kreisverband Wanzleben)
The restrictions resulting from the pandemic are being addressed with various emergency services. This shall guarantee the basic supply especially for the high-risk groups and socially weak people. In Wanzleben, a mobile emergency service provides a service telephone as well as individual support services (purchasing services, medication or other postal services, deliveries, and transport services).

Hygiene Instructions in Schools
Branch: District Association Nürtingen-Kirchheim unter Teck (Kreisverband Nürtingen-Kirchheim unter Teck)
After the reopening of the schools, volunteers of the DRK district association Nürtingen-Kirchheim unter Teck informed the pupils about the Corona-related hygiene rules and their meaning and purpose and helped them to implement them by means of practical exercises.

Procurement of Materials

Production and Distribution of Masks
Branch: District Association Schwalm-Eder (Kreisverband Schwalm-Eder)
With the introduction of the nationwide mask obligation in recent months and the bottleneck in protection clothing, various DRK facilities have produced and distributed self-sewn mouth and nose covers. One of them was the DRK-Kreisverband Schwalm-Eder: Through an appeal on Facebook and the local media, about 1,500 volunteers committed themselves to work on this project from their homes or from the premises of the DRK rescue stations. Together with voluntary active members of the DRK-Kreisverband they sewed, collected, distributed, and delivered sewing kits or finished masks.

Branch: District Association Jena-Eisenberg-Stadtroda (Kreisverband Jena-Eisenberg-Stadtroda)
The Jena-Eisenberg-Stadtroda district association supported people who are dependent on the help of others for their weekly shopping during the pandemic period and, on request, has put together a carefully compiled box full of food for a whole week. This included food for breakfast, dinner and, if required, for Vespers and the daily self-prepared lunch.

Quarantine Angels
Branch: District Association Berlin-Northeast (Kreisverband Berlin-Nordost)
The "Quarantine Angels" of the DRK-Kreisverband Berlin-Nordost support in different ways people who either belong to the group of the particularly endangered or are in quarantine. In addition, there are people who are particularly affected by restrictions in public and professional life, e.g. single parents or parents with no or limited day-care/school care. Furthermore, they carry out the direct distribution of food to needy persons affected by the restrictions on use due to the crisis, in particular those of the Berliner TAFEL e.V. They take care of shopping and necessary errands, offer services such as accompaniment to the doctor and also promote neighbourly networks. 

Shopping Tour and Pharmacy Service
Branch: District Association Constance (Kreisverband Konstanz)
In order to relieve the burden on the residents in the eight assisted living facilities of the DRK-Kreisverband Konstanz and to protect them from possible infection risks in local transport and in shopping markets, shopping services were offered to the residents and pharmacy visits were carried out.

Food Vouchers for Students
Branch: Regional Association Hamburg (Landesverband Hamburg)
As a small support service for daily needs, 75 students of a DRK-owned student hostel in Hamburg were provided with food vouchers.

Young Sewing for Old
Branch: District Association Freiburg (Kreisverband Freiburg)
Children and young people from the Youth Red Cross groups have produced mouth-and-nose protective covers for the residents of a care and senior citizens' centre.

Development of Digital Tools

Chatbot for Information and Suspect Test on the Corona Pandemic Website
Branch: Saxony Regional Association (Landesverband Sachsen)
In cooperation with the AI-StartUp DOCYET (AI = artificial intelligence) from Leipzig, the DRK regional association of Saxony is breaking new ground. For the first time, the Red Cross is using a chatbot, i.e. a text-based dialogue system that can communicate with users. This chatbot provides simple and daily updated information on the Coronavirus, carries out a suspicion test based on simple questions and informs about the supply possibilities in the own environment. This can provide an important basis for relieving the burden on doctors' surgeries and telephone hotlines.

DigiFlex Child Welfare
Branch: District Association Muldental (Kreisverband Muldental)
Digitisation and flexibilisation of educational offers to ensure the well-being of children
Even without direct personal contact, the assessment of families and children should be made in order to be able to recognise excessive demands and possible threats to the well-being of the child at an early stage and to be able to counteract them.  In addition, the educational offers of the day care centre are to be maintained despite the closure of the facilities for the promotion of children. The project consists of various individual measures which build on each other or interlock with each other: e.g. language games via messenger, virtual exchange groups, exchange via chat with children and families.

Sterntalerhaus Digital Child and Youth Centre
Branch: District Association Duisburg (Kreisverband Duisburg)
The Sterntalerhaus digital children's and youth centre of the Duisburg district association provides children with concrete offers (e.g. online posting and/or sending of game and craft templates) and advises parents and young people by telephone or e-mail on various topics, ranging from leisure activities with children to job applications.

20th Digital Covid-19 Info Library
Branch: District Association Berlin Steglitz-Zehlendorf (Kreisverband Berlin Steglitz-Zehlendorf)
The situation around Covid-19 is difficult for people with disabilities to understand and grasp. The necessary measures with contact restrictions, hygiene rules and restrictions on personal rights also have drastic effects for the residents in a home run by the Berlin Steglitz-Zehlendorf district association.  A good half of the residents have no or not enough spoken language.  Written language is only available to a few residents, so that even simple language is often still too complex to understand the situation. Residents are therefore dependent on explanations and rules of conduct using visual aids. The aim of the project is therefore to keep the residents up to date with the latest information and rules concerning Covid-19 by means of low-barrier, audio-visual presentation of the latest information and rules in easy language and in a comprehensible and appealing form, thus increasing the security of action in everyday life.

Red Cross Course: Care
Branch: District Association Jena-Eisenberg-Stadtroda (Kreisverband Jena-Eisenberg-Stadtroda)
How do I care for a sick relative in times of a pandemic? Through an online course developed by the DRK-Kreisverband Jena-Eisenberg-Stadtroda, one can learn how to protect oneself and organize life when one has to care for sick relatives. The online course shows measures that are particularly easy to carry out. It also offers all interested parties the opportunity to follow the online course chapter by chapter.

Psychosocial Care, Promotion of Personal Development and Reduction of Isolation

Support One on One - Support for Students in Need of Learning Assistance
Branch: District Association Waldshut (Kreisverband Waldshut)
In a situation where public life is very limited, schools rely on digital teaching. Students have to participate remotely. However, there are families who do not have the digital means or cannot handle them. Digital learning requires a lot of self-discipline and great support from the parents’ side. Not all parents can provide this support, and some feel overwhelmed by the current situation and the learning material. This imposes the threat of enlarging the gap between stronger and weaker families and could therefore affect opportunities for their children. To prevent this from happening, the DRK-Kreisverband Waldshut launched the Support One on One project. In their day care centre children from socially disadvantaged families, children and parents with migration background and children whose classroom survival is at risk can receive special learning support. In cooperation with schools the county chapter offers a professionally sound learning and motivation atmosphere.

With Children Through the Corona Crisis - Support and Advice for Families in Corona Times
Branch: District Association Freiburg (Kreisverband Freiburg)
Families are affected by the Corona crisis in many different ways and often face great challenges. Not only are there many uncertainties in dealing with Covid-19 - families have to find and organise themselves completely new and have to solve many problems here, be it in relation to child care, leisure activities, educational issues, but also in all other aspects of daily life. The Kreisverband Freiburg offers families who are particularly affected and burdened by the Corona crisis a comprehensive counselling and care service for all questions and problems of daily life.

Raisdorf Ahoi!
Branch: Regional Association Schleswig-Holstein (Landesverband Schleswig-Holstein)
The Corona pandemic has led to many restrictions in public life since the beginning of March 2020. Since then, the protective measures for particularly vulnerable people ordered by the state government of Schleswig-Holstein have been continuously implemented in the DRK school and therapy centre Raisdorf of the DRK regional association of Schleswig-Holstein. As a result, the young residents of the DRK School and Therapy Centre Raisdorf have also had to give up or suspend many - otherwise natural - social contacts for over two months. These restrictions mean above all the renunciation of visits to and from family, meetings with friends and participation in cultural and sporting events. This in turn reduces the active perception of positive experiences and the exchange of information about them.
Within the framework of Raisdorf ahoi!, the DRK School and Therapy Centre Raisdorf has organised twelve events in the Summer of 2020, at which music makers presented their genres and performing artists (dance, theatre, artistry etc.) their programmes.


2. Projects Conducted by the DRK National Headquarters

Procurement and Distribution of Materials

Thanks to in-kind and financial donations, the German Red Cross guaranteed the provision of basic materials such as protective equipment (e.g. masks, surgical kits, gloves…) and disinfectants, especially for:

  • the DRK regional state associations, for further distribution to the voluntary and full-time emergency services
  • the Association of Sisterhoods of the DRK, in particular for DRK clinics run by the sisters and facilities for the care of the elderly throughout Germany
  • the DRK blood donation services
  • Red Cross sister societies in Europe and worldwide.

Development of Digital Tools

DRK’s WhatsApp Chatbot: Reliable Information Even in Times of Crisis
In view of the multitude of channels distributing a wide range of information during the Corona crisis, it is important to rely on trustworthy and reputable sources. DRK’s new WhatsApp chatbot offers reliable Corona information in a contemporary format and in real time. A chatbot is a technical dialogue system which enables communication by text input or voice. Chatbots are often used to automatically process frequent enquiries by means of artificial intelligence (AI) - from simple information to personal appointments, a great deal is possible. Not least because of the rapid information flow, this kind of communication channel is able to offer great added value for users. Of course, an automated bot cannot replace human and personal communication. However, AI and human contact can also be combined in a chat function. DRK’s WhatsApp chatbot is to be expanded thematically in a subsequent step: alongside information on the Coronavirus, in future it should also be possible to use it for blood donation appointments, to provide information and news on projects abroad - especially also in case of catastrophes - and it is planned to integrate the chat function into various sections of the DRK website.

The DRK-WhatsApp bot is to be expanded thematically in a next step: In addition to information on Covid-19, it will also be used for blood donation appointments, provide information on the DRC's foreign projects - especially in the event of disasters - and it is planned to integrate the chat function into various sections of the DRC website.

The DRC-WhatsApp-Chatbot has been successfully in use since April 2020 and has already sent out 20,000 messages with information, tips and hints on the topic of Coronavirus. The technology in the background of the chatbot has been designed and programmed so that its use is not limited to the news application WhatsApp. Among other things, the technical connection to the website is currently being examined, so that an additional service can be offered to website visitors via new dialogue fields. 

Health Education for Children and Young People: New Formats of the Youth Red Cross
The Corona pandemic is changing the way schools are run, as is first aid content. Hygiene and infection prevention are likely to occupy schools for a long time to come and have a great influence on first aid measures. For this reason, the Youth Red Cross (JRK) is currently creating online and offline formats under the title "Die Allerersten - Das junge Erste Hilfe-Portal" (The First Aid Portal), which are aimed at children and young people between 6 and 16 years of age. The materials convey health protection measures in an interactive and playful way in order to practise them. The playful approach motivates young people to deal with the mediated measures over a longer period of time, to understand their background and to comply with them. The project also establishes a direct link between these protective measures and first aid measures. This is intended to show: Even in times of Corona it is possible to help people in need. In this way, the JRK conveys a basic value of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The online portal combines short videos and infographics with action ideas and gamification elements (interactive hidden object, quiz, etc.). To ensure the platform's longevity, it will be expanded step by step by adding classic first aid topics to the Corona-related content produced. In this way, a comprehensive learning platform on the topic of first aid in times of Corona and beyond is created, which explicitly addresses a young target group.

In order to also reach the younger part of this target group (about 6-10 years), the JRK additionally produces image-heavy print products with information and behavioural tips (quartet, leporello, posters) and also here pursues a mixture of play and information transfer.

The online platform is scheduled to go online in mid-September. The texts and designs are currently being created and the functions of the website are being developed. Parallel to this, the print products are being created.

DRK Parents' Campus
In times of social distancing, this project of the DRK General Secretariat aims to bring together groups particularly in demand, such as families with new-born babies, and to support them both practically and emotionally through various digital services. For this purpose, selected offers are to be transferred to the digital environment.

For example, parents who have had a baby during the pandemic situation and receive regular support in the first few months should be able to take advantage of these in the form of virtual courses. The offers prepared in this way should be quick and easy to use and also offer possibilities such as video transmissions for groups.

The DRK Parents' Campus is currently undergoing technical development and is scheduled to be rolled out in October. In addition to the technical component, a new course offer - optimised for digital implementation - is being developed together with the participating DRK district associations, which will also provide parents with the best possible virtual support. The planned series of courses will focus on the transfer of knowledge and deal with topics which are especially relevant for parents with children in their first year of life. In order to take the needs of the target group into account, the parents' target group will be continuously involved.  

Emergency Care in Long-Lasting Crises: New Training Formats
In order to sustainably strengthen the operational capability of the DRK preparedness in long-term crises such as pandemic situations throughout Germany, new training concepts and digital learning media (e.g. videos, interactive lessons, apps) are to be developed. In this way, teaching and management staff of the DRK preparedness units in community-based civil civil protection and health care will be given additional social, technical, pedagogical and organisational skills.

In a first step, individual and collective learning experiences from DRC missions during the Corona crisis will be scientifically determined and prepared for internal educational work. On this basis, pilot training courses are designed and implemented which are aimed at multipliers of readiness. Central issues of care services and the management of neighbourhood assistance are to play a role here (e.g. care in the home, shopping services, telephone advice, protective measures such as handling protective clothes/equipment or disinfection).

As part of the project, an online study was carried out in cooperation with Heilbronn University of Applied Sciences on the resilience and learning experiences of the DRK emergency services during the Covid-19 pandemic. An evaluation has been carried out. An exchange workshop "Learning from the Covid-19 crisis" for DRC leaders is planned for 13-14.11.2020 in Kassel, which will be based on the questions and results of the study. 

Psychosocial Care, Promotion of Personal Development and Reduction of Isolation

Hospice Work and Care for the Dying Despite the Ban on Contacts
Hospice Köpenick, DRK Clinics Berlin (Hospiz Köpenick, DRK Kliniken Berlin)
In the current exceptional situation, important elements in hospice work are only possible to a limited extent or have even been completely eliminated: The employees of the hospice currently have an even greater responsibility towards the guests and their relatives. The accompanying culture must therefore implement alternative forms of cooperation that preserve the essence of hospice work to the greatest possible extent. The decreed discontinuation of social services requires the creation of new communication possibilities, for example through the use of audiovisual technology. Voluntary hospice work is no longer possible: in all areas there is overtime work to be compensated. Guests must be relieved of their fear of isolation at the end of their lives, and this can be achieved by means of creative new forms of service as well as rediscovered, tried and tested ones. These should be sustainable and should also be offered in the period after Corona.

Assistance in Palliative Care
Palliative care is currently very limited and important elements cannot be provided due to the contact ban: Hospice employees have an even greater responsibility for their guests and their relatives. The accompaniment culture must therefore find alternative forms of social interaction that preserve the essence of palliative care to the greatest possible extent. This project aims to develop and implement new communication forms such as the use of audio-visual technology. Hospice workers are trained to use and make their guests familiar with audio-visual tools. The main goal of this project is to sustain relations and social interaction between hospice guests with their care takers and their families and friends via video and audio communication in order to minimise social isolatio

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Organization Information

German Red Cross / Deutsches Rotes Kreuz

Location: Berlin - Germany
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @roteskreuz_de
Project Leader:
Violette Matuszewski
Corporate Partnerships Manager
Berlin, Germany

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