AllDi: Single Parents in Dithmarschen

Location: Dithmarschen, Germany

Vulnerable group in focus: Single parents

Coordination: Diakonisches Werk-Schleswig-Holstein, Hannes Muehlens

Did you know? 12,1% of the families in Dithmarschen are single parent families, of which 4009 are mothers and 886 are fathers.

Do you speak German? Visit the AllDi website or the local blog of the Accelerator Team.

Social Start-Up Biography

On this page we want to document the AllDi micro project and its development into an independent social start-up. To take you with us on this journey, we update this interview diary every other month. If you have further questions, feel free to contact the local coordinator (see above). If you want to learn more about certain terms you may encounter here (such as "micro project", "social start-up", "Accelerator Team" and the like) please check our "the ideas behind the project" section.

Choose your issue of the AllDi biography:

 DEC 2019   FEB 2020   APR 2020   JUN 2020   AUG 2020   OCT 2020 


Tell us about your Micro Project in three sentences

AllDi (Alleinerziehende in Dithmarschen) is an initiative for and by single parents that co-created a regional website for their peers to network and communicate with each other. Before, there was no public place or platform in which single parents could find valuable information specifically targeted at them; relevant events and activities were promoted only in a "mouth to mouth" way without structured communication channels. Now, our goal is to develop further and improve our service and to become independent from European funding.

Who are the persons behind the initiative?

At the core of the project are four single parents who meet every month to coordinate the upcoming steps. Moreover, the social service provider Diaconie of Dithmarschen is involved in the meetings. The innovative element is that the project is not just “for” single parents, but also “by” single parents. For instance, they learned about web design, fundraising and journalistic writing to be able to develop and maintain their internet platform on their own. This approach is essential to ensure that the contents actually meet the demands and expectations of single parents in the region, which would be different if an “outsider” would do the job. In addition to the development and maintenance of the website, the group furthermore organises information events (e.g. a presentation about divorcing and children) and actively promotes the project (e.g. through stands at Christmas markets) to become better known.

What are your long-term goals?

Our two long-term goals are to ensure the initiative’s long-term financial viability and to recruit additional participants. Both goals are actually interrelated because having a critical number of participants is the first prerequisite for a stable organisational setup. To reach more potential participants, we work with low-barrier project presentations in everyday situations. Moreover, we aim at cooperating with established organisations or events to approach future group members.


Which topics do you currently address in your micro project?

We are currently about to organise three thematic evenings for single parents where external referents from different institutions will provide input. To give an example, the topic of the first evening seminar will be “separation and its consequences in relation to the age of the children”. In addition to sharing knowledge and information, these events should also help us to establish our micro project location (the meeting point “Hoelp”) in the region and to attract further members for our team. Our micro project organises the event series entirely on its own, this includes for example finding speakers, promotion and all kinds of practicalities.

What are your challenges at the moment?

We aim to increase the number of micro project participants to stabilize our project. Many of our activities should support this endeavour either directly or indirectly – be it an AllDi stand that we organised at a local Christmas market in December, an information leaflet the we developed over the past months, or the lecture series that we just talked about. These are but a few activities and we are quite active when it comes to outreach efforts. At the same time, we try to develop a strategic approach to avoid that these remain isolated or uncoordinated measures.

What are your short-term goals for the next months?

We have many plans, one of them is to organise a seminar weekend with all members of our micro project and Accelerator Team. This weekend should be used for team training and to make further progress on our way towards becoming an independent and mature social startup. Organising such a weekend seminar is actually quite challenging as we had to take care not only of the place, the schedule and so on, but we also had to organise child care. Eventually we managed it, now the planning is almost finalised and we look forward to the seminar weekend!

 APRIL 2020 

Tell us about your recent achievements at AllDi!

Just before public life in Germany was put on hold due to COVID-19 we embarked on a team-building training weekend. We met in a small town on the North Sea Coast and worked with creative tools to identify challenges (such as communication) and potential solutions. Apart from this seminar, we made progress in terms of communication and outreach. For example, two members of our team organised a promotion event in a local kindergarten where we had the chance to acquaint parents with our activities. As this event turned out successful, we identified further daycares and other institutions that we want to approach.

All over Europe, we are faced by the tremendous impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our daily lives. In how far does it influence the work in your Accelerator Team? What about the services offered by your social start-up during this situation?

In particular the issue of member recruitment has come to a standstill right now. As we are not allowed to meet and all public events are cancelled, our efforts to raise awareness for AllDi and to invite potential members and people who are simply interested in our topics are nullified. This is the most important out of many challenges emerging from the current situation. In general, the level of uncertainty is very high, which makes it difficult to plan ahead.

 JUNE 2020 

It is already more than two months ago that most restrictions caused by COVID-19 were introduced. How did you experience this time? How do you cope with the “new normal”?

We used these special times for activities that do not require physical meetings. For instance, we reworked the AllDi website and discussed whether social media such as Facebook could help us to improve our outreach. In Addition, we have used our website to inform parents about financial support in this particular situation and we have published numerous creative craft ideas for children and parents as well as web links for children with exercise, learning and entertainment opportunities for the time at home. One such example is a nesting box for insects, which you can see on the picture below.

Summer is at our doorsteps and we want to look ahead: what are your plans for the next months?

On a strategic level, we started to think about an idea that emerged from our workshop in spring and is inspired by the social start-up of our Latvian partners in Vidzeme: the “AllDi Café”. Once the current restrictions are over, this could become another tool to raise awareness for our initiative. While for the time being a “real” café seems out of reach, we were thinking of alternatives such as a regular open meeting in an existing café, but maybe also a so-called “white dinner”, or yet another format. However, these plans are still at the very beginning; at the moment we are discussing basic questions for the setup and organisation of a potential “AllDi Café”.

 AUGUST 2020 

We hope you enjoyed summer! We heard that last month AllDi committed to a local aid action related to COVID. How was it?

It was a great success! Together with local partners and supporters, we organised an initiative to distribute book gifts among children of single parents here in the region. The action was a great success, no only for the children, but also because we specifically supported local bookstores and experienced good cooperation with our partners.

How did this project come about?

A local NGO, the "Ladies’ Circle 82 Dithmarschen”, received a donation from a company from the region, Petersen-Rickers. To reach out to children of single parents, they contacted us – AllDi – to support them with the practical organisation since we are in direct contact with many single parents in the region. Further information on the action is also available here. Apart from the direct benefits for the children in the region, this activity also helped us as AllDi to increase our visibility.

 OCTOBER 2020 

In our very first interview, you mentioned that you follow two strategic goals with your social start-up: to secure its financial viability and to increase the numbers of participants who actively contribute to AllDi. How is it going?

Regarding our goal of attracting more participants, we engaged in several outreach activities throughout the past months. For example, the group decided to start a Facebook site and maybe later possibly also a Facebook group. It would allow for more interaction, for exmaple through surveys, google alerts or simple comments. Our next step is to ask the local social service provider, the Diaconie of Dithmarschen, for support with data protection and the legal notice.
On another level, we are preparing for an interview with the county administrator of Dithmarschen. From the interview, we want to learn about his capacities to improve the conditions for single parents and how he can support the development of further empowerment projects like AllDi. While this does not contribute directly to our goals of increasing the user base and stabilizing our social start-up, it does have indirect effects. Through the interview, we hope to highlight the value of social start-ups like ours and sensitize for the right framework conditions that need to be in place if such projects should be able to succeed.

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