31 JANUARY, 2018


In connection with the 5th International Mayors’ Conference in Vienna (29 – 30 January 2018) the City of Vienna and Act.Now organized a field exposure for the working group of mayors and their accompanying experts to initiatives and projects of the City of Vienna. The scope of the field trip was to present a variety of institutions focussing on social and/or educational work with children and youth as well as on projects dealing with the issues of social cohesion on a city level. The participants were able to chose between tour 1 (2nd and 20th district of Vienna) and tour 2 (12th, 15th and 16th district).

Facilitated by the City Councillor Mag. Jürgen Czernohorszky and Act.Now

Tour 1

PIRAMIDOPS – Women’s meeting place: Education, Counselling, Intercultural Encounter

Piramidops is an NGO which offers low-threshold service on a professional level, it also serves as a meeting point for different initiatives. Piramidops supports women with migrant background in Austria and offers information on legal and social matters (2017 in numbers: 9-10 trainers offering 8 courses for 90 women; 7 counsellors covering 9 languages and counselling 600 women). The NGO deals with the topics of living, residency, child care, relationships,career and education. Piramidops receives funding from: European Social Fund (ESF), Austrian Integration Fund (ÖIF), Ministry of education, science and research (BMBWF), Initiative for Adult Education (IEB), City of Vienna, Vienna Culture Program.

Magdas Hotel

magdas HOTEL is part of Caritas Vienna‘s Social Business group which aims at addressing social matters through a market approach wherever possible. All income is reinvested in order to achieve more social change. The hotel opened in 2015, has 88 rooms and employs 20 former refugees and 10 experienced hotel staff. The hotel does not receive any public funding that is not also available to other companies. magdas HOTEL must be self-financing, without losing sight of its ultimate goal: improving the lives of otherwise marginalised people (i.e. migrants with a refugee background, who face problems finding work in Austria). The project is based in a former Caritas retirement home, and financed via crowdfunding of 57,306 Euros, plus a 1.5 million Euros loan from Caritas Vienna. To enable the adaptation of the building, on a limited budget, upcycling with help from renowned architects was a key element from the start. Students and staff from the neighbouring Academy of Visual Arts have produced art to decorate each room, meaning every guest has a unique room. The design of each room was completed with furniture donated by the public, and also Caritas‘s own used furniture shop, CARLA. This all goes to show that commitment, flexibility and creative ideas can more than make up for limited financial means. In 2015 magdas HOTEL was rewarded with the Austrian State Prize for Design.

Production School of Spacelab

Spacelab is the institution with the lowest threshold-service among all projects of Vienna‘s Vocational Training Guarantee (measures to finish training or education beyond the compulsory secondary school education) which offers a complete and manifold program for the integration of youngsters (15 to 24 years old) into the labor market. The target group consists of those who are neither in education, employment nor training (NEETs) and generally has difficulties in accessing the labor market.
Spacelab is part of the Employment Assistance Network (NEBA) of the Social Affairs Ministry Service which provides a system of assistance to young people at the transition from school to work, including youth coaching, production schools, training assistance, job assistance and job coaching.
training, coaching, knowledge workshop and sports. Additionally, spacelab provides low-threshold access to young people through open youth work and the possibility to participate on a daily basis.

In 2017, 37% of the participants went to school, started an apprenticeship, other qualification programmes or got employed. spacelab is funded by Social Affairs Ministry Service and Vienna Employment Promotion Fund (waff) with a budget of 3.5 million Euros (2016). The Public Employment Service (AMS) covers the training benefits for the participants. Moreover, Vienna’s Municipal Department 13 (Education and Youth Work) provides funds for staff and infrastructure.

Social City Vienna

Social City Vienna, is an independent platform which connects initiatives on social innovation. The building is a co-working space for different projects:

  • The magazine Biber is run and written by representatives of communities of ethnic minorities in Vienna.
  • The CERIecon playpark (partner of Social City Vienna) is a start-up academy for young entrepreneurs who, beyond a good working space, receive support and training in sustainability-driven entrepreneurship.
  • The volunteer project Stadtmenschen offers overview and guidance for people in difficult situations and helps to navigate through numerous social institutions and financial support instruments in Vienna. The volunteers (currently 62, from 19 to 75 years old) receive training in order to offer their low-threshold service to clients. The project works like a neighbourhood support in order to avoid isolated co-existence and a lack of relevant networks.
  • The Vienna Youth Peace Prize encourages young people to hand in creative projects reflecting upon their definition of peace as well as upon their personal contribution to a peaceful society.
  • The Impact Finance Organization imfino promotes and fosters the expanding field of impact finance. It uses public and private capital to support ideas and initiatives that create a measurable positive economic, social and/or environmental impact.


Back.Bone20 – Mobile youth work in the 20th district of Vienna

Back.Bone20 aims at improving the living situation of adolescents in the long term. It offers an accessible approach to social work, applying street work to interact with young people. The association uses the methods of group- and project work, as well as individual casework. It is up to the young people to decide when and in what way they call upon the service, they are not forced to reveal their identity and all information will be handled confidentially. Back.Bone20 operates in the 20th district which is the area with the lowest average income in the entire city and a high level of diversity in the population.

Tour 2


Wohnpartner am Schöpfwerk/ Bassena – block of council flats/ lower class

Wohnpartner was founded in 2010 and provides value-based community work and conflict management through mediation. Residents at Schöpfwerk can come to the community centre “Bassena” to utter their concerns. The Bassena, founded 30 years ago, offers space for common projects and local encounters. The office of Wohnpartner is located in one of the biggest public housing complexes in Vienna with 5000 residents. The city of Vienna is well known for its public housing policy (starting in the 1920s) which offers apartments for people with low and average income in almost all districts of the city.

Youth Education Centre (JUBIZ) in the Community College, 16th district of Vienna (VHS 16)

The JUBIZ was founded in 1992. It provides low-level education and school-leaving qualifications for young people (16 to 20 years old). The course programme contains basic skills courses for migrants, bridging courses (from basic skills to school leaving certificate) and “Secondary 1 school leaving certificate” (from the age of 16). In 2018, 310 students are enrolled, a high percentage of the students has a migrant background (mainly Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Somalia, Romania, Serbia). All participants are supported by social workers who are available
before, during and after the lessons. Additional youth coaches help the graduates to discover their professional interests in order to enter the labour market or further education programmes. The JUBIZ is funded by the Viennese Community Colleges and the Initiative for Adult Education (IEB).

GB* Gebietsbetreuung Stadterneuerung, district development / urban renewal, project “Herbststrasse 15”

For more than 40 years the GB* has been operating in almost all districts in Vienna and currently has 5 offices in the city. An interdisciplinary team of architects, city planners, experts in law of tenancy, mediators, social workers etc. provides information and advice (on housing environment, law of tenancy etc.), strengthens the neighbourhoods (e.g. by bringing together residents, administrations and politicians) and raises awareness (e.g. for city growth, changes, migration). The common goal is to increase the quality of life by developing resilient and diverse quarters and ensuring affordable housing. The GB* belongs to the Municipality Department 25 (inspection authority for housing in Vienna).

The project “Herbststrasse 15” started in 2013 in the 16th district of Vienna – in an area with low income and a high percentage of unemployment. The projects is located in a building which does not seem very appealing. The idea behind is to attract all residents from the quarter in order to share space, objects and ideas. Local residents are welcome to initiate projects and are supported by the team of Herbststrasse. The activities comprise sewing courses, painting, lectures, dancing, theatre, language courses etc.

CoRE – Integration in the Centre

CoRE (Centre of Refugee Empowerment) is a joint project by the Municipal Department 17 – Integration and Diversity, the Vienna Social Fund (FSW), the Vienna Employment Promotion Fund (waff), the Vienna Business Agency and the Vienna Board of Education – European Office. The Centre develops and provides integration offers addressing the needs of asylum seekers and refugees in Vienna. A newly developed data base ensures the documentation of skills and competences of refugees which are assessed during the asylum procedure. CoRE furthermore provides information courses for refugees and volunteers, conducts a peer-mentoring program (refugees are trained as peers in order to serve their community) and offers workshops, internships and apprenticeships, which aim at strengthening the skills and competences of refugees. In 2008, the Municipal Department 17 – Integration and Diversity implemented the programme StartWien (Start Vienna). It comprises individual coaching for migrants and information courses in more than 20 languages. Information courses for refugees are offered at CoRE two times a week. Furthermore, migrants and refugees receive the Vienna Education Booklet (Bildungspass) which registers all language courses, information modules, counselling services, education and further training programmes.

We would like to thank the following institutions which have contributed to the Field Exposure:

  • Verein Piramidops / Frauentreff
  • magdas Hotel
  • spacelab
  • Social City Wien
  • Back.Bone20
  • Wohnpartner Wien
  • Jugendbildungszentrum (JUBIZ)
  • Gebietsbetreuung Stadterneuerung GB*west
  • CoRE – Centre of Refugee Empowerment
  • Municipal Department 17 – Integration and Diversity