Helping others (4/4): Social assistance

Learn more about our cooperation with social services

With over 250 partner communities across Switzerland, we have already been able to offer our services in numerous communities in less than half a year. Today we will present our partnership with the Social Services of the district of Affoltern am Albis, with whom we have been working for several months. Furthermore, we will give you some information about social assistance in Switzerland.

Our social assistance system in Switzerland is very entangled and sometimes not always easy to understand - this is largely due to the strong federalist structures in Switzerland. There are the so-called SKOS guidelines, which contain the most basic recommendations for monetary support recommended for social assistance recipients. However, the cantonal social assistance regulations, as well as supplementary communal manuals and directives, are decisive in every case. As a rule, the cantonal provisions are very much based on the SKOS guidelines; however, there are 26 different cantonal social assistance laws. So anything but light fare if you want to deal with it comprehensively.

You can find out who can apply for social assistance on this article by Beobachter, for example:

Where do the funds come into play?

The basis of social assistance is the so-called basic need, which is a basic monthly contribution and is to be divided for various things, such as food, clothing, etc. This basic amount varies from canton to canton. This basic amount varies from canton to canton and is between approximately CHF 900 - 1,000 for an individual. This budget theoretically also includes money for IT equipment. In addition to the basic needs, the following additional funds are granted:

  • Housing costs
  • Basic medical care (e.g. insurance)
  • Situational benefits

It is important to realise that social assistance contributions are calculated individually and that there is always a certain grey area - especially in the case of situation-related benefits (SIL for short).

For example, we have realised that in many places IT equipment can only be paid for through this SIL if someone is in education and such a device is a mandatory requirement for the educational purposes. The money of the basic amount is practically nowhere sufficient to purchase even a simple device.

This means that for many people on social assistance, there is no easy way to get a free or low-cost device. This is probably one of the most important factors why our offer is so well received by our partners. The low purchase cost of CHF 150 thus creates more opportunities to help more comprehensively or to first consider that a laptop can simplify many things.

How is a laptop usually paid for?

Usable new purchases usually cost between CHF 500 and CHF 1,500, assuming a Windows 10-capable device with the appropriate licences - and there may also be additional requirements, because I in particular (Tobias Schär) have noticed that requirements for own devices for schools, education, etc. are usually far too high. Thus, every laptop is associated with a high financial cost for the respective municipality and also a risk. Our laptops are second-hand devices, but mostly from the higher price segment and professionally refurbished. Besides the refurbished devices, we do much more than simply accept laptops and distribute them again. More about this in our next blog series 🙂

If you would like to delve deeper into the topic of social assistance and social security in Switzerland, here is a tip: In addition to our practical knowledge, we have also dealt with it on a theoretical level with our many partners and found the guidebook of the SOS Observer Foundation to be very valuable:

Cooperation with municipal social services

But now to the essential part. Good to see you are still here! In order for you to hear a few words from one of our older partnerships, we asked the Affoltern District Social Service. Michelle Högger gave us the answers. She is the head of the asylum and migration department as well as the head of personal assistance.

What is the Affoltern district social service responsible for?

We at Sozialdienst Bezirk Affoltern provide services in the social sector for eight sponsoring municipalities as well as for neighbouring municipalities.

The Asylum and Migration Department is responsible for the care and accommodation of asylum seekers and temporarily admitted persons.

In what context have you received laptop requests so far?

In the area of asylum and migration, we previously only financed laptops for clients who needed them for an apprenticeship.

We have otherwise only had individual requests from other clients. They needed the laptop mainly for school (German courses, secondary school, etc.) and for learning German.

Why are you now working with wLw?

We work with the project so that our clients can benefit from access to the digital world at an affordable price. It allows us to give more clients a laptop so that they can familiarise themselves with the digital world.

It is important to us that our clients have this access and learn how to use IT equipment. This is very important nowadays, especially for integration into the Swiss labour market.

How has the cooperation taken place so far?

We are very satisfied with the cooperation so far. The requests are processed quickly and we always receive the laptops well packed by post.

If questions arise, Tobias is always ready to answer them quickly. We appreciate the open cooperation very much.

What do you hope for from the cooperation in the future?

We hope that the good cooperation can continue and thank Tobias and his team for their commitment.

This fourth part is also the conclusion of our reporting on our partners. It is important for us to show transparently how we work and how we are allowed to create added value together with others.

In the new year, we will certainly also send you some words from those directly affected. Until then, we hope you enjoy our content - and we are also open to new inputs and suggestions. Thank you for supporting our work with your interest! 🙂

- Tobias Schär (Founder and President "Wir lernen weiter"))

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