Finding the right person can be difficult for everyone but it is specially so for people with mental and/or physical disabilities. Unfortunately, they are very often subject to discrimination and the usual social gatherings do not often provide them with the necessary safe space to relax, be themselves, start conversations and build meaningful relationships.
This is where Julia Wefelnberg from Diakonie Michaelshoven steps in to help out. Julia is in charge of “Schatzkiste“, a service offered in a number of German cities, which aims to help citizens with disabilities find partners. People who wish to join can do that by visiting her office and creating their own profile with information about their hobbies and interests. When Julia comes across two profiles that match and concludes that there is a high probability that these two people will have many things in common, she arranges a meeting for them. On the first date, she might be present to initiate the conversation but ultimately her goal is to leave the participants to build the relationship by themselves.
Julia started working for “Schatzkiste” in 2018 and since then she has helped many find love. Some couples have even gotten married. But not all stories have happy endings. “I have also had to facilitate separations. It is sad but it is part of love“, says Julia.
In addition to counseling, Diakonie Michaelshoven also organises parties for singles, cinema evenings and karaoke nights. Currently, the number of registered participants is about 300 “but the demand for the service is growing high“, reveals Julia.