In September 2019 we opened our second Echo Hub, this time in Athens. Given the constant flux of refugees and countless relocations from the island to the mainland, we recognised the importance of replicating our services and operations in 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 arrivals from Turkey to the Islands increasing again in 2019, more and more refugees from the Islands are being transferred to Athens and other parts of the mainland. The main gap occurs in maintaining the individual's mental wellbeing while they are trying to find work, stable housing and language-learning opportunities in a large city. Refugees are continually subjected to non- transparent asylum processes involving long waits that can lead to emotional distress, frustration and unrest.
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 access to education such as: Language courses, IT classes, Music lessons, Activities (Sports, Art, Theatre) and CV writing skills. We also serve as a clearinghouse of information about other NGOs in Athens that may support their various needs. We strive to build community and empower every student that we serve.
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 training they have received at the Hub is helping them to find jobs, get scholarships and integrate into life in Europe.