WHAT IS WELCOMMON
#WELCOMMON is an innovative community center for hosting and promoting social inclusion and job integration of refugees. It is a structure not only for refugees but #withrefugees for the benefit of the local community as well.
It is implemented by the social enterprise Wind of Renewal (“Anemos Ananeosis”) in cooperation with Athens Development and Destination Management Agency (ADDMA), in the framework of the refugees’ relocation program of the Municipality of Athens and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). It is funded partially (hosting and functional costs) by the European Union until the end 2017.
The building where WELCOMMON is housed hosted a public clinic by 2013. We rented the space from the owner company, aiming to transform it into a model space, within the urban fabric, for temporary hosting of refugees – and in the future of other vulnerable groups – in a way that leads to their social inclusion. Our goal was to implement in practice a different refugee hosting model that is win-win for both refugees and Greek society.
In order to shape our project, we cooperated with migrant and refugee communities and the organizations representing them in our country (Greek Migrants Forum, Greek Refugee Forum, Anassa Cultural Center, Syria-Greece Union, while we studied the existing (good and bad) examples of such efforts. Our plan differs from most others, because it aims in an integrated way both in reception and temporary housing (in decent conditions) and in the social and job integration of refugees.
We aspire to contribute not only to the efforts of hospitality but also to the development of strategies and practices of social inclusion. We want to see the implementation of a substantial change in the hosting policies in our country and the development of a holistic strategy for refugees in Greece.
In order to prepare WELCOMMON, we had been working intensively from mid-August to late September 2016, offering personal and voluntary work and reusing equipment and spaces to deliver a quality result at a minimum cost. On October 12, 2016, our first guests, 30 refugees – 5 mothers with 25 children, were welcomed. We quickly, though, arrived near the capacity of the space that is the hospitality of 160-180 people.
WELCOMMON itself in terms of objectives and operation includes many elements of innovation. This is one reason why we are receiving many visits every day from actors from every corner of the globe to see our work closely. It was honored on June 8, 2017 with the “Special Mention” award of the REVES Excellence Award 2017, which aims to strengthen synergies between local / regional authorities and social economy actors, and to highlight the achievements of such cooperation. The evaluation committee consisted of representatives of the European Economic and Social Committee, the European Parliament, the Regional Committee and Social Economy Europe.
We are in contact with many organizations, institutions, foundations in Europe – and the last months not only from Europe but also from other continents. We are hosting researchers, not only volunteers, from international organizations (EU, World Bank, Turner Family Foundation, UNICEF, etc).