Schwarzer Peter (Black Peter) was founded in 1983. While outreach work at the then Autonomous Youth Centre (AJZ) in Basel was the first focus of our work, the open drug scene around the Kleinbasel bank of the Rhine soon became another place of work. On the one hand, the great misery led to the distribution of clean injection material and the creation of an opportunity for consumption, which was not permitted at that time despite the emergence of the HIV virus and many drug-related deaths in the alley. On the other hand, the „Kleinbasler Drogenstammtisch“ (a round table to discuss drug issues) was founded with politicians, administration, police, residents, helpers and affected persons. With the result that it was generally accepted that, in addition to repression, therapy and prevention, harm reduction must also be part of drug policy. Over the years, various projects have been (co-)initiated to meet the needs that Black Peter perceived through the close proximity to the people in the alley. Many of these projects (street room, street kitchen, women’s oasis, mobile youth work, warming room at the station, animal health, etc.) were transferred to self-employment so that the street workers could concentrate on their core tasks.
We are an association in which the honorary board „only“ fulfils its legal duty of supervision and benevolently accompanies, advises and sometimes constructively questions us. The strategic and operative management of the association is carried out jointly by the five-member management. The annual budget is a good half a million Swiss Francs, with salaries accounting for the majority of the expenditure for the total of approximately 370 job percentages. We are financed by
– 50% State contributions
– 40% foundations
– 10% donations by private individuals and companies
Further figures for 2018:
– 1’251 hours outreach work (almost 30% of our working time)
– 10’218 contacts in the office
– 4’037 contacts in (semi-)public space
– 1’722 consultations
– 765 registration addresses (currently approx. 360), on average 7.3 months in use
Whereas in the past we mainly dealt with „classic“ homeless people and addicts, our clientele has expanded massively in recent years. This is evident not least in the housing shortage issue, which now affects the majority of people with a „normal“ life course. Many get into a social downward spiral by job loss or illness. Once they have collected their mail from us and are waiting for a Tram, you cannot see their precarious situation.
Our work consists of four pillars:
– Outreach social work in public space
– Low-threshold consultations
– Public relations and social policy
Outreach social work in public space
The street workers work in the living space of the clientele. They establish contacts and create access to the helper network where there is often no trust in social work. They orientate themselves on the needs and concerns of the people in the alley and provide support, which serves to improve the quality of life in the alley and counteracts impoverishment and isolation. The street workers are partisans of people on the margins of society, but also strive to build bridges between different social stakeholders. If the work at „hot spots“ is mainly about establishing contacts, creating trust and cultivating relationships, we try to perceive the public space in the „seismographic“ work, which groups stay where, how is the furnishing redesigned (e.g. benches that are not suitable for lying, toilets that disappear, drinking places that displace zones without an obligation to consume).
On two afternoons we have an open consultation hour. Without registration, everyone can contact us with their concerns, worries and questions. We can solve some of the problems ourselves, for example by providing cost credits for the emergency sleeping place or by „translating“ official mail. For people without a permanent residence, we offer an official registration address in cooperation with the residents‘ services. This means that people can still be reached by post and retain their right to financial support (social assistance, handicapped pension, supplementary benefits) even after they have lost their homes. Currently, about 350 people are registered with us. We often triage, i.e. we show people who can best support them in their concerns and possibly establish contact and trust between the client and the specialist office.
The Autonomous Office has existed for 12 years, where clients can use the office infrastructure (computer, copier/printer, scanner and telephone) free of charge on three afternoons to search for apartments or write applications. Many administrative activities today require access to the Internet, which many cannot afford. They are supported by peers, i.e. people with comparable life experiences. The peers can earn a subsidy as a supplement to social welfare, for example.
We regularly organise barbecues in public spaces, some of which are attended by over 100 people. Two to three times a year, a hairdressing team comes to us to do our people’s hair professionally. We regularly provide our customers with tickets for cultural and sporting events such as Museumsnacht, FC Basel-Matches or the Baloise Music Session.
The football team „Dragons Basel“ trains weekly and collects trophies as part of the „Surprise“ street football and other tournaments. Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Mexico City, Amsterdam, Glasgow – more than ten of our players have already represented Switzerland in these cities at the annual Homeless street football World Cup for the socially disadvantaged. (korrekt «Homeless World Cup»)
We receive large quantities of clothing and outdoor materials from the population and pass them on directly and free of charge to those in need. For one year now, this has been done separately from the rest of the business on Wednesdays 16:30 – 18:00. The clothes shop, including the prior sorting of donations, is also organized by peers. The permanent establishment of the clothes shop (operation and infrastructure) is not least possible thanks to the long-term support of Dolder AG, for which we would like to take this opportunity to thank you very much!
Public relations and social policy
Our public relations work always serves the concerns of our clientele, be it that they are formulated directly, be it that we can draw conclusions about widespread grievances from our work with individuals. Our PETER magazine appears twice a year and is sent to over 1,000 addresses and all major and government councils, distributed to interested parties and can also be downloaded from the Internet. The May issue also contains our annual report, in November there is a main topic, this autumn it was social assistance.
At www.schwarzerpeter.ch you can find a lot of information about the association, our work, the opening hours and our offers, information flyers, important links for our clients and a press review. Almost 5,000 friends follow our daily posts on Facebook.
It is certainly also thanks to our serious media work that we are perceived as a specialist centre for topics such as housing shortage, public space or poverty and are receiving more and more media enquiries. We now have a nationwide presence in newspapers, radio broadcasts and television. We are also regularly invited to present our work. For example at schools, with police trainees, donors or even carnival cliques. The most important aspect here is always to bring the life realities of our clients closer to the people in addition to the institution of Schwarzer Peter.
We are in the process of expanding our cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW). In addition to individual presentations and workshops, a module on low-threshold social work is currently being developed. Because the social work has also the order to become sociopolitically active, we co-launched among other things the initiative «right to housing» and in the vote could win a majority for it.
Schwarzer Peter – Verein für Gassenarbeit
+41 061 383 84 84
Our donation account:
Basler Kantonalbank, 4002 Basel, 16 545.784.06
IBAN: CH98 0077 0016 0545 7840 6