Markus H. Seidel
Markus Seidel was a journalist before starting Off Road Kids. In 1992, a documentary on street children led him to write the book Street Children in Germany: Destinies that Should Not Exist. The contacts Markus established with street children while doing research for the book developed into the first nationwide street social work system. At the same time, he expanded his knowledge and experience with Off Road Kids and implemented management knowledge into social work. Inventing the first virtual street social work station sofahopper.de, he successfully created a showcase about transforming social work along the digital revolution without destroying the existing structures. Today, 30 years later, Off Road Kids Stiftung social workers have successfully housed more than 10,000 street children and young homeless people and counseled tens of thousands facing existential threats.
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- Off Road Kids Foundation
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- Non-profit Social Enterprise
- Education; Social Innovation; Youth Perspectives
- Areas of Impact
- Europe, Germany
Off Road Kids Foundation
Working to ensure that runaways never become street kids and that homeless youths get a second chance, the Off Road Kids Foundation's Countrywide Street Social Work programme has branches in Germany's largest cities (Berlin, Cologne, Dortmund, Frankfurt and Hamburg), where many children end up. In addition, Off Road Kids Foundation has founded Germany's first virtual street social work station, sofahopper.de, so that Off Road Kids street social workers can be contacted directly by young people from all over Germany and without running away to larger towns.
Due to its extensive network within Germany, young people can be reunited with their families more easily and reach a youth welfare office or therapy centre regardless of the distance. This is a fundamental difference between Off Road Kids and local assistance organizations.
Off Road Kids finances its Countrywide Street Social Work mainly through sponsorship; its main supporters include Vodafone Foundation Germany, Deutsche Bahn, Bausparkasse Schwaebisch Hall, BAHN-BKK and Permira. Off Road Kids offers a free 24-hour emergency hotline for young people in need of help, a health programme for homeless youths, a home schooling programme and a hotline for parents with children threatening to run away or who have already done so. The foundation's social workers investigate the best possible prospects for each child, and young people who cannot get help from their families or in their hometown can find accommodation in one of two children's homes.
Since 1994, Off Road Kids has helped more than 5,000 young people improve their future prospects. The key to integrating young, underprivileged people into the workforce and society is through help from qualified educational professionals. To this end, the Off Road Kids Foundation has established the Institute for Pedagogic Management, an undergraduate programme offering students a bachelor’s degree in business administration.