| Sep 8, 2023
A New Academic Year at the Athens HUB
We have opened our doors at the Athens HUB for another academic year full of exciting programs and activities to support displaced people in Athens.
Why do we keep doing what we do? Greece continues to be an entry point for refugees and migrants fleeing conflicts and seeking asylum in Europe. Athens, being the capital has been the primary destination for many of these individuals looking for opportunities to start a new life. The availability of efficient integration services is crucial in helping rebuild lives, access social benefits, education, and employment, and ultimately contribute to society. Although the Greek government has enacted several laws and policies to facilitate the integration of refugees, including granting access to healthcare, education, and the labor market, there is insufficient implementation and a lack of governmental resources to offer efficient support. The challenges are many: lack of adequate and affordable housing, inadequate access to health care and mental health services, access to the labor market due to language barriers, lack of recognition of foreign qualifications, and discrimination. Without the services of NGOs and private initiatives, many displaced people would be left without any form of survival assistance and opportunities to rebuild their lives.
At the HUB we address the following challenges: the language barrier: not speaking the Greek language is a significant obstacle to integration and finding employment, particularly for adults. That is why we continue to offer intensive Greek language classes from beginner to advanced levels and sponsor the official Greek certificates. We also offer an intensive English program and computer classes to enhance employability. Bureaucratic hurdles: Our Social Integration team (three livelihood officers and two lawyers) adds skills and manpower to our HUB services. The team offers legal advice, access to social benefits, assistance with documentation related to the integration process, life skills, employability support, and other services to our beneficiaries. We continue to run vocational training workshops to create employment opportunities. This term we have scheduled a second ‘Elderly Care’ Training with the German Malteser Hilfsdienst, a third intensive Coding and Programming Bootcamp, and a TESOL teacher training with English as a second language course
But the HUB is more than its parts! We serve on average 200 to 250 individuals (last term we counted 38 different nationalities) who access our educational and integrational services. Our multinational team of teachers, interns, and volunteers creates a diverse and inclusive environment. We organize extracurricular activities – conversation classes in our multilingual library – CV and career support, cultural outings, and field trips to foster community and anchor people into their new environment. When possible, we encourage members of our HUB community to take over parts of managing the HUB, teaching languages, and running activities to offer work experience and empowerment. In addition, we are embedded in a network of other organizations that provide expert services and we closely collaborate to create synergies and expand our referral network for our HUB community. We participate in and organize workshops to improve how to run our organization and we offer free supervision and mental health support for those in need.
None of this would be possible without your generous support over the years!
We thank you for your solidarity!
Gabi, Catharina, Gabriella, and the ECHO team