Rose Volz-Schmidt

Organization: 
wellcome
Year founded: 
2002
Country: 
Germany

Video

Wellcome supports thousands of mothers in Germany who are coping with the challenges of a newborn and families in difficulties.

Focus: Children and Youth, Women
Geographic Area of Impact: Germany
Model: Leveraged Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 3,500 families (2011)
Annual Budget: US$ 600,000 (2010)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 20%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Germany, 2007

Background
The birth rate in Germany is declining as more women, particularly those with an academic background, choose not to have children; still, about 510,000 children are born annually. Many mothers do not live near their families, and the stress of the first months with a newborn can lead to depression or violence. As society becomes more mobile, the family support needed in such circumstances is often not available.

Innovation and Activities
Wellcome provides fast, non-bureaucratic support for mothers overwhelmed by a newborn or with many children at home. The service is designed to reduce stressful situations, violence against children and post-partum depression. It recruits and trains volunteers, and works with a wide range of institutions and paediatricians. Mothers simply call and request support without providing medical or other explanations. Families are expected to pay a service charge of five euros per hour, which can be lowered or waived if necessary.

Demand for the service primarily comes from families with twins or triplets, single mothers, families with three or more children, and families who have just moved to a new town. About 25% of its beneficiaries are families in which the stressful situation of a newborn is compounded by an additional difficulty or crisis such as divorce. It is in such circumstances that wellcome’s impact can be particularly beneficial.

The organization piloted a support group targeted at Turkish minorities in Hamburg, and a programme for families deemed "on the edge", wherein wellcome employees fulfil a wish on the first and second birthday of a child. This gives wellcome a follow-up opportunity with marginalized families. In cooperation with Stern, a leading German weekly magazine, wellcome launched a “godparent” project, which financially supports selected families for an entire year. These families are often affected by chronic disease, sudden loss of employment or other hardships.

Headquartered in Hamburg, wellcome is organized as a social franchise with 180 local teams, with plans to expand to 250 throughout Germany by 2013. The teams are largely independent, particularly in raising funds for their operations, but they operate under the same brand, receive central marketing and PR support and follow the same wellcome standards. Although still largely dependent upon donations and government support, wellcome is developing partnerships with corporations and new tools to raise needed funds. Parents pay a small fee to cover the variable expenses of the service.

The Entrepreneur
Rose Volz-Schmidt started wellcome after experiencing the difficulties of moving to a new city with a newborn child. She is a mother of three, including twins. Initially, her motivation was to fill the support gap for new mothers in parts of Hamburg, but she quickly realized that the need extended to all of Germany. Before starting wellcome, Volz-Schmidt worked in family education for many years; she studied social pedagogy and is a certified coach. Since 2009, she has served as the owner and manager of wellcome. She was awarded the German Federal Cross of Merit in 2009.