In September 2019 we opened our second ECHO HUB, this time in Athens. Given the constant flux of refugees and countless relocations from the islands to the mainland, we recognised the importance of expanding our services and operations to Athens. Not only does it allow refugees to continue their studies despite relocation, but it also offers a sense of community and support during times of distress and uncertainty.
With increasing numbers of refugees being evicted from the islands' Hotspot camps, more and more people are ending up in Athens desperately looking for stable housing and work. After long waiting times in remote camps, there is very little help from the Government to integrate the now recognized refugees into their new surroundings and society. What is missing are learning opportunities, support with acquiring the necessary papers, and guidance on how to access the local job market.
With the ECHO HUB, we strive to provide a safe space in which adult refugees can benefit from a friendly and dignified environment. We provide integration services and access to education such as language and IT classes, CV-writing workshops. vocational training. We also serve as a clearinghouse of information about other NGOs in Athens that may support their various needs. With our wide network of partners, we strive to help them find work or access further education.
Refugees are actively involved in the HUB activities as both students and teachers. They experience the HUB as a stabilizing factor in an overall tense and unpredictable situation and as a place where an effort is made to bridge the gap between host and guest communities. The service and training they receive at the HUB are helping them to find jobs, get scholarships, and to integrate into Greek society.