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Carrier at the Cemetery: A Different Kind of Inclusion

Carrier at the Cemetery:

A Different Kind of Inclusion


In the fields of gastronomy or the landscaping there are numerous integration companies. Why not at a cemetery, as well? This is what the city government of the German town Worms thought and started the successful project „Integration at the cemeteries of Worms“.

Photo: Men scavenge leaves

In every wind and weather the employees of the cemetery are on duty; © City Worms

Every day at seven o'clock, the employees of the integration company meet at the main cemetery „Hochheimer Hoehe“. From there, they spread to the other eleven cemeteries of the city of Worms. Among the employees there also are people with different disabilities who are responsible to keep the cemeteries in order. They mow the lawn, turn foliage or clear of weeds.

The idea to build up an integration company at cemeteries originated in 2010. The cemeteries of Worms had already engaged people with disabilities before. This worked so well that they wanted to develop this offer to support inclusion on the regional job market. Now, the city of Worms and the integration department of the country Rhineland the Palatinate were the initiators and also finance the whole project.

„The staff of the cemetery company, the town council and the mayor had numerous discussions and planned together,“ says Helmut Bauer who acts as an adviser of the town for the integration companies. The leaders of the cemetery company carefully prepared the job for the new employees. They bought new devices and machines which can compensate the interferences of the employees – as for example a sweeping machine which operates by button pressure and is therefore also servable for the people with physical handicaps.

Photo: Employees and managers of cemetery

The managers and employees of the cemetery are proud of their integration company. Here: In front of the mourning hall at the opening ceremony a year ago; © City Worms

A year after the opening of the integration company, all parties are extremely contented with the development. „The motivation of the employees is very high what confirms over and over again how important this project is. At the moment, there are more job candidates than jobs,“ explains Bauer.

One of the employees is Fritz Ihrig. He suffers from the Raynaud’s syndrome, a vascular disease, and has been working at the cemetery for half a year now. „I am very lucky. I like it very much to work outdoors and in such a great atmosphere. What more does one want?,“ says the 52-year-old and is glad.

The cemetery company employs a total of 55 people. 15 of them own a disabled person's pass. Seven of them come from sheltered workshops, what is a lot. Particularly for people from the workshops it is difficult to get an employment. According to German statistics, only approximately five percent of the employees get into integration companies. „The employees get agreed wages what is not usual. Thereby, they also do not feel - in financial regard - disadvantaged towards the unhandicapped people.“

Photo: A grave

The subject "death" is not a problem for the new employees; © S. Galushko

One of the conditions for a permanent position in the company is a training period of several weeks in which all applicants with handicap have to take part: „The most important thing is that these people are able to do the sometimes exerting activities with every wind and weather without problems. In this manner, the applicants can find out whether their disability does not limit them in their work too much“, says Bauer.

The second subject which all employees meet is “death”. To avoid possible disagreeable or difficult situations, the managers already talk about it in the application conversations with the job candidates. As Helmut Bauer assures, nevertheless, till present there have not been any problems due to the contact with death and the everyday funerals: „The employees can handle these subjects in a normal way and do not feel overtaxed with it.“

Thanks to the new staff the quality and output of the company have improved: „The work surface of the cemeteries is 38 hectares. This means a lot of work. Together with the new employees we can do the susceptible orders more quickly,“ says farmer.

The concept of the integration cemeteries of Worms which got the “Rudolf-Freudenberg Price” in November of the last year is a long-standing and unlimited project. „By this project the city of Worms wants to show how important the inclusion in our society is. The leaders of the integration company as well as the mayor exert themselves for the further inclusion of the people with disabilities on the regional job market,“ according to Bauer.

Michalina Chrzanowska


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