This project started when the citizens of Essen wanted to help each other after a severe storm in 2014, with the initiative becoming a firmly established organisation and an example of how to efficiently organise in the age of social media.
SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATED VOLUNTEERS
When storm Ela hit the area, many people in Essen volunteered to help the city recover from the resulting chaos. Most initiatives were uncoordinated actions by individuals. The Facebook group 'Essen packt an' (EPA, 'Essen takes it on') was set up to communicate local needs to the volunteers, coordinating their efforts to help.
EPA has developed into an organisation active in the fields of disaster response, neighbourhood help, and homeless assistance amongst others. It serves as a low-barrier point of contact and platform, allowing everyone to help, either spontaneously or regularly, and contribute according to their means and abilities.
COMMUNITY AND COMMUNICATION
EPA’s approach has led people from all different ages and backgrounds to join forces to help others. Over time and through this common engagement, friendships have also developed. Volunteers have learned that, although every disaster situation is different, the key is communication between all stakeholders. EPA rapidly became a NGO, and has received numerous awards and a lot of public praise. The organisation is continuously growing and all those involved work on a voluntary basis.
Every citizen between the age of 12 and 90 can contribute according to their means and abilities.