Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece

by Better Days Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece
Support the unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece

“I am so happy I am doing this procedure. I want to go to Germany so much, it's the only dream in my life. I want to study and work and be a useful member of society. Here in Greece, I am all alone, struggling to survive.”  ‘A’, UASC boy, Afghanistan.

'Themida' has undergone an extraordinary journey, reaching out to support children who were often invisible and at immediate risk. Alert of ongoing developments on the ground in Greece, including a  decrease in the number of homeless UASC, we entered the last semester with an exit plan. In Better Days we call it ‘a conscious closure’,  a process that calls for celebration, critical reflection, documenting lessons learned, and building on best practices. Themida has taught us so much!  

We believe in creating blueprints of humanitarian programs that can be replicated and adapted to fit responses throughout Europe. In Themida, we adopted a holistic and child rights-based approach to responding to unaccompanied children’s primary need for legal aid while providing access to secondary - yet essential - services such as social support, clothing, food, and information. Our program aimed at accompanying unaccompanied children through an otherwise lonely, turbulent, and exhaustive journey navigating through a hostile environment and complex bureaucratic procedures.

Themida’s services included:

  • Basic assistance (NFIs, PPE and COVID-19 support etc.)
  • Legal aid (i.e., child-friendly legal information, legal representation, access to DNA tests, referral to safe long-term shelters)
  • Medical care (facilitated access to medical care in private and public medical services)
  • Psycho-social services (access to a psychological aid, initial PSS assessment, mainstream, specialized and non-specialized support, case management)
  • Social services (support in transportation and escort services for vulnerable cases, translation services for Farsi, Somali, Bengali, French and Arabic)

 

Because of your generous support  through these years (2019-2022), we managed to:

  • Support 337 individuals, out of whom 290 were UASC or unrecognized UASC
  • Achieve 93 positive legal cases (91 + 2 age assessments)
  • Place 88 UASC in shelters
  • Register 65 individuals to authorities

 

What's next for Better Days?
The end of Themida allows for new beginnings in Better Days' story. Our goal is to remain agile, relevant, and effective so we can maximize our impact and invest in areas that need us the most going forward. Following an in-depth needs assessment, we identified serious gaps in the provision of quality education and accredited programs in Greece. Data from early 2022 indicates that there are over 65000 children living in sites on the mainland, of whom many are registered in public schools, but regular attendance is rare due to logistical and social difficulties.

We are excited and looking forward to the relocation of Gekko Kids, our blueprint education program on Lesvos, to Athens. Gekko has run successfully since 2017, during which time we worked with thousands of children and young refugees trying to build a future in Europe. Feel free to explore our GlobalGiving page, "Personalised education for 120 refugees in Athens" or visit our website for more information on Gekko Kids. 

We are truly empowered by your love. If you’d like to continue to follow our efforts, check our on Facebook, Instagram, and  Twitter.

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Better Days team during an outreach activity
Better Days team during an outreach activity

"I just woke up. I am in the shelter. I am very thankful. The first night in the shelter went well. Now I can rest. I love you all" - says ‘B’, an unaccompanied 16 y.o girl from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

We feel empowered by the words of ‘B’ and many other participants. Despite the ongoing changes occurring in the migration context in Greece, the development of THEMIDA GREECE program, implemented in collaboration with DCI Greece, has caused a significant impact on the lives of another 28 children during this reporting period.  

During the first quarter of 2022, our program was situated in a hostile environment for refugee children which was characterized by:

  • The limited capacity of the National Tracing and Protection Mechanism to onboard and identify new homeless unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
  • Overstretching of asylum services resulting in difficulties to register children. Some UASC are waiting for over 8 months without a registration appointment. 
  • The Joint Ministerial Decision added an extra admissibility interview for asylum seekers incl., UASC. 
  • The burden of proving kinship in family reunification cases relies on UASC and their relatives and adds to the long delays. 

Besides these impediments, we remain committed to fulfilling the requirements of our participants and helping them exercise their rights for protection and legal representation. During this reporting period the Themida team focused on:

  • Supporting 13 children with their asylum process and 12 children with open family reunification cases who needed additional aid from our program.
  • Registering a newborn and working on his guardianship with his underage unaccompanied mother and Themida participant. 
  • 12 outreach activities which involved escorting, NFI delivery and PSS sessions.
  • A successfully completed age assessment with a positive decision from the doctors.

Simultaneously, at the beginning of a new year, Better Days performs an impact and a context analysis. Therefore in February 2022, we launched two parallel assessments on Lesvos and in Athens to perform and submit a comprehensive field needs assessment to help inform decision-making on THEMIDA GREECE for the coming year and other Better Days programming for 2022-2023.  During this time, Themida Greece and other BD programs paused the acceptance of new cases. The results of the assessments have highlighted a critical gap in quality education for children and youth in Athens and the development of a closer relationship with the National Tracing and Protection Mechanism which runs under the Special Secretariat for the Protection of the Unaccompanied Minors since April 2021. Although the program's efficacy has been challenged over the past year, we are interested in determining means of support for this initiative and compliment national efforts in developing a comprehensive and holistic approach to protecting the rights of lone children in Greece.

We will be getting back in touch with you shortly to inform you about our next steps. Remember to stay tuned to our social media to get first-hand information about our operational updates!

Playing with children during streetwork activities
Playing with children during streetwork activities
Analysing the data from our Needs-assessment
Analysing the data from our Needs-assessment

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Themida Greece participant during a PSS session
Themida Greece participant during a PSS session

“Thank you for your help, you help me within a week. I am blessed to have met you. I was transferred to a good place, I like it. No words can express the feeling I have for you. Thank you so much”. Ibrahim, 16 yo, Syria.

UASC homelessness in Athens has remained one of the main focuses of our programme. Some unaccompanied children sleep rough on the streets, live in parks or share rooms with unknown adults. Through a solid network of partners, we continued providing basic assistance as well as with holistic protection services to a total of 193 children. THEMIDA GREECE program, implemented in collaboration with DCI Greece, managed to register 37 new children, find shelter to 63 UASC and received 8 giant positive decisions for family reunification cases.

Here the snapshot regarding basic assistance services provided through the program:

  • Medical appointments: 110
  • Escorts: 273
  • NFI (Backpacks): 75
  • Hot emergency meals: 49
  • Rapid response interventions: 3

 

Better Days also remained present on the streets of Athens were we have performed over 20 streetwork outreach exercises since April.

Running in coordination with all the components of THEMIDA GREECE since April 2021, our PSS department continued to actively offer PSS sessions on an individual basis.

Our Greek Senior Child Protection Officer licensed psychologist provided mental health support to 26 participants, through the 92 individual PSS counseling sessions she conducted which capitalize on different therapy methods including art or gestalt techniques. 

At the end of last quarter, we implemented comprehensive satisfaction surveys to gather participants' feedback on the quality of services provided by Themida Greece. These feedback surveys are anonymous and voluntary, with participants encouraged to complete them post-service. We are delighted with the results obtained so far where over 97% of participants are satisfied with the services!

During the first quarter of 2022, Themida Greece will continue to provide holistic support to 56  UASC and youth cases which are open and in need of protection and legal aid. 

We will also focus on conducting a nation-wide context analysis, as well as field assessment exercises focusing on the legal, PSS and educational needs of UASC in Greece with the objective to ensure that Better Days operations will cover fundamental gaps and needs to provide the most efficient, impactful, and qualitative, services possible.

Stay tuned to our social media to get first hand information about our operational updates!

BD team during a training workshop
BD team during a training workshop

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Preparing NFIs for the 3rd trimester
Preparing NFIs for the 3rd trimester

Our THEMIDA GREECE child protection program is growing rapidly. We have continually adapted our programme to fit the urban Athenian landscape, providing legal and PSS support, alongside medical aid and basic assistance, whilst collaborating with partners to meet all UASC needs. With targets set for the last quarter, we approach the close of 2021 with confidence. 

During this quarter, we have taken strides to sufficiently boost our visibility in Athens, with beneficiaries, partners and other relevant stakeholders. Steps taken include:

  • Launching a street outreach pilot programme
  • Hosting a programming training for partners
  • Networking with new diverse teams to envisage different ways of working 
  • Meeting with long-standing collaborators on a weekly basis

Our Outreach team has proactively focused on its objective to increase our understanding and exposure to the conditions of refugees and asylum seekers in Athens in order to identify unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) at risk. Recognising a street-presence programming gap, we launched our pilot outreach phase over 3 weeks involving 4 outreach interventions per week. Practical in-person street work informs our programming effectiveness by:

  • Enhancing our understanding of target populations’ essential needs
  • Increasing the likelihood of referrals from within the community
  • Further educating us on the conditions faced by displaced populations 

Post-pilot phase, we have determined to continue performing outreach activities in specific areas on a regular basis - an operational focus we are excited to update you on in our next report!

Building a strong reputation, enhancing levels of trust in our work and ensuring quality programming in Athens has been a key focus. We actively collaborate with 23 organisations in Athens so as to offer essential services fitted to specific contextual UASC needs - i.e. health care, NFIs, food and shelter, as well as access to educational, social and medical services. THEMIDA GREECE has received 70 referrals this quarter. When a referral is made, Better Days, in partnership with Defence for Children International Greece (DCI), immediately clarify the needs and risks of the child, prioritising our response time according to the urgency level. 

Inspired by our progression and development in key focus areas this quarter, we are proud of our service quality in Athens. With your support, we move forwards quickly and efficiently. Take a moment to read our key quarterly (Jul-Sep) numbers and remember these achievements were also made possible by you:

  • Cases taken on: 58 (159 from the beginning of the year)
  • Number of escorts: 63 (including medical, legal and PSS appointments)
  • Medical appointments scheduled: 18 (including PCR COVID tests for Family reunification cases)
  • Non-food items packs delivered: 21 (including hygiene items, PPE, clothing and footwear)

 

Stay tuned to our social media to get first-hand information about our operational updates!

Signing an agreement with MVI
Signing an agreement with MVI
Outreach team briefing prior an intervention
Outreach team briefing prior an intervention

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Better Days' team on the streets of Athens
Better Days' team on the streets of Athens

THEMIDA GREECE - our child protection programme implemented with Defence for Children International (DCI) relaunched in Athens successfully. 

THEMIDA’s mission is to support unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) in Greece, helping them to understand and navigate a complex legal system, access child protection and PSS services, make medical referrals and provide NFIs and rapid response to those that are in direct danger.

March 2021 was a milestone in the future of THEMIDA GREECE. In just two months we have completed needs, risks & opportunities assessments, actors & service mapping and redesigned THEMIDA with the aim to maximise its impact and quality, as well as our capacity. We are now in a position to launch THEMIDA GREECE as a blueprint - a holistic child protection program that can be replicated anywhere in Europe.

  • 63 new cases referred to our program Jan-March 2021
  • 167 accumulative active THEMIDA cases
  • 33 UASCs with successful cases waiting to be transferred to destination countries
  • 3 DNA tests implemented on Lesvos for family reunification purposes
  • 85 non-food items packs distributed
  • 60+ Legal & medical appointments and escorts

At the same time, our small team is in the final stages of completing key protocols compiling the best professional practice, and most effective operational and reporting processes, along with health and safety considerations, involved in any THEMIDA intervention. 

Over 900 UASCs were living in unsafe accommodations as EKKA stated in their March report. This number does not include all undocumented, unregistered and, most likely, homeless children. Better Days continue working to identify, track and help all those cut off support, children that remain invisible to the eyes of society. 

Stay tuned to our social media to know more details of our operational updates and be aware of our future fundraising campaigns.

Once again, thank you for believing in our work.

Better Days and Defence for Children International
Better Days and Defence for Children International

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Organization Information

Better Days Greece

Location: Mytilini - Greece
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @betterdaysngo
Project Leader:
Elena Moustaka
Mytilini, Greece

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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