WELCOMMON. We need your support in order to remain open the innovative, community center for accommodation and social inclusion for refugees. Can you help us?
WELCOMMON, is an innovative project providing hosting and social inclusion for the refugees that promotes in practice co-existence and dialogue between people from different cultures.
Is there space for social innovation on issues related to accommodation for the refugees and in particular when this happens with the participation of the refugees for the benefit of the local community. And also, can this innovation be spread out more or there is no space for that?
Through WELCOMMON we have proved that there is space for innovative actions, but this interesting experiment will close by the end of February, since the collaboration with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Municipality of Athens will come to an end (official letter 18th January 2018 GREATHCR24).
We want to continue our work, despite the limited time that we have which does not give us the ability to search for quick alternative solutions. However, we hope that we will make the impossible a reality by addressing to the strength of the many, to mobilize thousands of citizens and actors (support with small amounts from all) in Greece and across the world, something that can contribute to its autonomous continuation, to the benefit of both our society and the newly-arrived refugees.
We are different
There are already many projects and accommodation centres, differing in quality and effectiveness. But we, Wind of Renewal, a social enterprise, we chose to create an accommodation and social inclusion centre, WELCOMMON, a facility not only for the refugees but with the refugees, for the benefit of the local community, that has 4 important innovations:
Decent accommodation. We chose to rent and upgrade by minimum cost and with voluntary work a building that remained close since 2013 (ex hospital). We formed it and we created a model community centre with hosting capacity up to 160-180 refugees coming from 18 countries! In total 600 refugees have been hosted since October 2016 up until today in a 3200 m2 building in the centre of Athens, half of them kids, upgrading and revitalising the neighborhood (near Kanigos square, in Exarcheia).
Accommodation for the most vulnerable groups of refugees, those that they are in need of chronic care, such as: people with chronic diseases, serious psychological disorders, disabilities, victims of torture, sexual abuse and trafficking, pregnant women and families with newborns. Up until now, almost 81 out of 150 residents of Welcommon consist the above vulnerable groups of: 9 people with special needs, 55 people with serious medical problems, 17 people with psychiatric disorders. On top of that, we host 14 newborns and some pregnant women.
New innovative community model facility based on empowerment and care based on the idea of ‘’community’’ in order to combine safe accommodation with social inclusion and job integration of people with high vulnerability. We have structured a social clinic, psycho-social support, non-formal education, support to kids to get registered to Greek school, social support services and job integration processes. Our “community model” is also suitable for other communities, neighborhoods, especially areas that have collapsed socially and economically and need to be reborn on a new basis. Because it has been organized on the basis of the needs of the community and it worked thanks to the participation of all and collaborations we developed widely.
Search for solutions for decent work both for refugees / immigrants and unemployed Greeks, in common and in innovative sectors. We look ahead for the empowerment and training of our guests and we design interactive workshops for the professional preparation and promotion of the abilities and qualifications of refugees together with Greeks, in order to create new employment opportunities for everyone in areas such as upcycling, multinational cuisines, culture, green / cyclic economy, energy efficiency and others.
We urgently need your help and support
If you find our work interesting, innovative and in compliance with the European values of a modern society, we ask for your support. You could support us either individually or through an organisation/foundation, in order to carry on this project for a short or longer term.
€1.200.000 need to be gathered gradually by the end of 2018 in order WELCOMMON project to be able to carry on. This amount could be gathered from 1200 people with sensitivities from Europe, North America, Asia and Australia who could give for example 1000 euro/each person to cover the basic needs of WELCOMMON. But in February we must be sure we are able to gather this amount, and this is very difficult, we know it.
Our future plans, IF we manage to carry on:
If we ensure the continuity of WELCOMMON, we are planning to offer everything that we are currently doing but in a more organised and systematic way:
Decent and safe accommodation and good quality food for 100-120 vulnerable refugees until they are in the position of living autonomously by themselves.
Support services: primary medical care, care for people with disabilities and serious health problems, non-formal education, psychosocial support, and social integration.
Support for children, Greek lessons, non-formal education, psychological support, art and crafts, creative arts lessons and sports lessons.
Seminars on vocational education for Refugees, Migrants, and Greeks, preparation on working on different sectors such as: multicultural cooking, upcycling, recycling, culture, and others, energy efficiency for households suffering of energy poverty.
Why WELCOMMON is under the threat of closure by the end of February
According to the new strategy by UNHCR and the Municipality of Athens, the refugees from now on will be hosted only in individual apartments, an action that we consider in principle rational. But there are two keys points that should be taken into consideration:
-Not all the people are ready to be transferred to apartments and to live independently, due to their past experience either in their back in their countries (tortures, trafficking, abuse, threats) that make them leave or during their trip (difficult and harmful living conditions in camps, hotspots, on the street etc) or due to medical problems.
– there are many refugees who want to have the option of choice – with regards to their accommodation – in a ‘’community’’, such as WELCOMMON, for empowerment and inclusion reasons.
Our opinion is, that there must be more alternative solutions for vulnerable people that need a holistic support and care, such as WELCOMMON, in order the people to be able to choose on their own what is more suitable for them in order to face their difficulties, to be empowered, to integrate social and professionally and finally to stand on their feet and live autonomously.
Our experience so far confirms that an integrated and innovative center that offers both decent and safe housing opportunities for empowerment and social integration of vulnerable refugees is at the present time more useful than ever. It does not create institutionalization or exclusion; on the contrary, it activates and strengthens the participants.
Vulnerable refugee groups, such as victims of tortures, abuse, trafficking, facing serious medical problems or psychological disorders, are in need of a transitional period in facilities that work as communities, such as WELCOMMON, which offer comprehensive and innovative support, provide sufficient time for preparation and are a very supportive environment in order to be autonomous in the future. Otherwise, the results lead to exclusion and isolation in an apartment, with no hope for the future and no solutions to their multiple problems.
Consequently, we are looking for different ways and sources of funding to keep WELCOMMON running. Funding for such an integrated project is a difficult task given the limited time that we have. At this stage, there are no relevant funding programs, national or European, to support our actions. For this reason, we request many sensitized citizens and institutions not only in Greece but also at European and international level to support our work.
How you could support and help us
Taking into consideration the above, we would be glad to provide you with further information of our work as well as to discuss with you. If you want to support us individually or you know institutions, foundations and organizations that could support the continuation of our work, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ΤΡΑΠΕΖΑ ΠΕΙΡΑΙΩΣ / PIRAEUS BANK, Branch: ΠΛΑΤΕΙΑ ΑΤΤΙΚΗΣ
IBAN: GR83 0172 0180 0050 1807 7868 253, BIC: PIRBGRAA,
Beneficiary: ANEMOS KOINONIKI SYNETAIRISTIKI EPICHEIRISI;
All the donations can be done through our bank account. Please let us know if you would like us to publish you donation to ensure transparency.