Photo credit: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg

A heart for helpers: ”Retterherz“ wins Social Project Contest

“Retterherz” is the winner of the Social Project Contest 2018. The Business School had called upon student initiatives of the University of Mannheim to apply with their social projects for a start-up financing. “Retterherz” tries to gain a greater acceptance for helping professions and volunteer activities and to attract young professionals through public relations work in social networks.

Dominique Nardin’s days are long: the 29-year-old is a law student at the University of Mannheim. He is preparing for his state examination and is working as a research assistant at a Chair. This already sounds like a busy day, but on top of that, Nardin is also volunteering for two fire brigades as a manager and technical trainer as well as a part-time paramedic. In his free time, he is often on duty, including night shifts. He is often called spontaneously to firefighting missions and has to drop everything. In January 2016, he started reporting about his life as a student, volunteer fireman and paramedic under the username “sprechwunsch” on Instagram and Facebook. “I wanted to show in an innovative way how to combine social commitment and student life,” Nardin says.

After eight months, he had already 10.000 followers and in September 2016 he launched “Retterherz – die Gemeinschaft” (engl. helper heart – the community) and “Pflegeherz – die Gemeinschaft” (engl. caring heart – the community): “I wanted to use my reach to positively and sustainably connect people who support voluntary work and social professions. Moreover, there is a lack of young professionals in many volunteer activities and social professions. With the help of my channels I try to get them interested in volunteering,” Nardin says. The success and the steadily growing number of followers proves him right: the platform “Retterherzen” has so far approximately 41.000 followers on Instagram and is considered as the first and biggest interdisciplinary social media community for rescue and security forces as well as caregivers. It contains entertaining posts which show people who help others on a daily basis, e.g. in the fire brigade, police, rescue services and in caring professions. Through this contemporary public relations work, Dominique Nardin wants to motivate people to get involved as well. He also seeks more acceptance for helpers who often have to deal with criticism and physical violence at the operation site.

“The Social Project Contest proves how much potential the students of Mannheim University have: In the third year of the contest we had more applications than ever before. The decision was not easy for us. However, ‘Retterherz’ convinced us: with his platform, Dominique Nardin provides more visibility of services performed by people in rescue jobs. The Business School and the Mannheim Business School are of course happy to support these efforts,” Professor Dr. Dieter Truxius, Dean of the University of Mannheim, Business School, says.

With the donation of € 1.130, Dominique Nardin wants to found an association which actively supports people working in the area of civil protection in all matters. For example, future members of the association are to receive financial support after accidents or if they have been victims of violent attacks in service.

About the Social Project Contest:

At the University of Mannheim, students receive not only professional training, they also engage in many projects and student initiatives in their free time. They are aware that not only academic achievements count, which is why they want to apply their theoretical knowledge in practice, solve problems and help. There are many good ideas, however, often the projects lack the necessary start-up financing.

Two years ago, the Business School therefore started the “Social Project Contest”, in which student initiatives of the University of Mannheim are invited to apply with a social project. The Business School supports the winning project by selling the class wine of the annual Bachelor Business Administration graduation ceremonies: one euro per bottle automatically goes to the project. The cooperating Mannheim Business School doubles the sum at the end. 

This way, a student project named “Macup” could be promoted in the first year of the Social Project Contest. The students of the three participating initiatives were keen to reduce the daily garbage of the countless to-go coffee cups on the campus of the University of Mannheim and to find a sustainable alternative. For this reason, they had the idea to establish a reusable deposit coffee cup at the University. Through the donation of the Social Project Contest, a prototype could be produced and since last year the “Macup” designed by the artist Nick Lobo from Mannheim is available in the campus shop of the university.

In 2017, the initiative Enactus Uni Mannheim applied with the project “Blauherz” (engl. blue heart): a special pair of pants for people in wheelchairs was to be developed, because unfortunately there is not enough fitting, affordable and at the same time fashionable clothing for them. With the donation of the Social Project Contest, the project managers were able to create a pair of pants which will soon be produced in series.