About the Berlin independent Office for Complaints

Who we are

We are a central, independent body that receives complaints from refugees, employees of accommodation facilities or people from refugee aid in order to forward them to the responsible authority in Berlin.

The Berlin Senate Department for Labor and Social Services, equality, integration, diversity and anti-discrimination (SenASGIVA) has assigned the Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe e.V. to operate the complaints office. The aid organization Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe e.V. is active in a wide variety of social areas. Even though the BuBS is financed by the Senate Department (SenASGIVA), it operates independently as an institution. The BuBS is also independent of other authorities and providers of the accommodation.

Our team is characterized by its great diversity: we come from 15 different countries of origin and speak 16 languages. Many of our employees have a refugee background, which helps us to better understand all sides with cultural sensitivity.

Our goals:

• Improving the situation of refugees in Berlin
• Finding the best possible solutions together with refugees, authorities and providers of the  accommodation  
• Developing a stronger refugee-oriented approach in the processes of Berlin authorities
• Informing refugees about their rights
• Supporting the accommodation providers in quality management

The team

Diversity is highly valued in our organization, and this is reflected in our team. Approximately 30 colleagues from 15 different countries of origin work in various teams to support refugees in Berlin. Some of us share the experiences of people who reach out to us.

Our team consists of a management team, an assistent manager, an administration team, complaints officers, social workers and network coordinators.

Currently, the following languages are spoken in our organization: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Dari, German, English, Farsi, French, Kurdish, Maninka, Pashto, Georgian, Vietnamese, Russian, Tigrinya, Turkish, and Ukrainian. Sign language interpreters and interpreters for other languages can be organized as needed.



Where did the idea come from: pilot project

The idea came from a very special story:
It all began in 2017 with a group of 40 dedicated refugee women from Pankow and culminated in the Berlin independent complaints office. These women of different ages and backgrounds became a “monitoring group” with the aim of bringing to light what happens behind the doors of Berlin’s communal shelters.

Their goal was to give a voice and listen to people who would otherwise go unnoticed.
In collaboration with the Integration Office of Pankow, the Monitoring Group developed a concept for a model project of an independent complaint system with four key features: independent, low-threshold, multilingual and proactive approach. A pilot project was launched by the Senate Department (SenASGIVA) to improve living conditions in refugee shelters in Berlin. Former refugees helped residents of communal shelters address their concerns and solve problems. The project was successful and led to the official tender of the “Berlin Independent Complaints Office – BuBS,” which was won by the Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe e.V. Today, BuBS receives thousands of complaints from across Berlin, works with authorities, the Senate Department (SenASGIVA), and refugee assistance initiatives in dedicated committees to find sustainable solutions. Since September 25, 2021, BuBS is firmly anchored in the Berlin State Law.

Reports and informational materials

Annual reports

Annual Reports of the Berlin Independent Complaints Office (BuBS)


BuBS poster in A2 format.


BuBS Flyers.

Advisory Board

The Berlin Senate Administration (SenASGIVA) appreciates refugees or other individuals submitting complaints about existing deficiencies. Through these complaints, the quality of administrative services can be continuously improved. The BuBS records received complaints in a database and regularly presents them (as anonymized statistics) to the Advisory Board for discussion. The goal is to uncover structural problems and effect necessary improvements. These improvements can be achieved, for example, through adjustments at the political or administrative level.

The Advisory Board meets every three months and consists of:

• Chair: State Secretary for Integration and Social Services
• Representatives from various Berlin authorities at the state and district level
• Representatives of the refugee council
• Representatives of refugees
• Organization and moderation: Staff members of BuBS

Operator: Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe e.V.

The nationwide Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe e.V. is one of the largest aid organizations in Germany and serves in the tradition of the Protestant Order of St. John (or the Johanniter Order), providing services to people. The tasks of the Johanniter include emergency medical services, civil protection, and first aid training. In addition, they provide care for the elderly and sick, home emergency call services, support and care for children and youth, hospice work, refugee assistance and integration, assistance for the homeless, and other charitable services.

More information can be found here.