Since we formally ceased our operations on Lesvos, our Emergency Response (ER) team has been working tirelessly to pivot our operations to meet increased needs on the Greek mainland. In the past months, they undertook an in-depth research process, meeting with a dozen other organisations doing important work all across Greece, with the aim of identifying the most pressing needs for refugees, and any operational gaps that exist. It was clear that significant needs were developing on the mainland, in particular for recognised refugees.
In March 2020, the Greek government further cut the support that recognised refugees could access. Whereas refugees previously had six months of financial and housing support in order to find their own accommodation, get a social security number, and seek employment, they now only have 30 days to do so. When this new regulation took effect at the end of May, over 11,000 refugees in these so-called “exit schemes” were left without any support — with even their scarce cash assistance taken away, and were forced to seek housing in the middle of a pandemic.
Many recognised refugees, including thousands transferred from the islands, were left struggling with homelessness, living on the streets in the middle of a crowded square in Athens. These needs will only increase in 2021, as asylum seekers are transferred to the mainland and asylum procedures are sped up.
In September 2020, LHR concluded its Emergency Response programming on the north shore of Lesvos, shifting activities to mainland Greece where we are now focused on providing support to vulnerable people experiencing homelessness in Athens.
The project aims to support refugees, asylum seekers and migrants experiencing homelessness or living in precarious conditions, by understanding their individual needs through a holistic approach, providing them with non-food items and food items, and with information to link them with the appropriate actors who can support them in their specific situation.
PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH OF RITSONA REFUGEE CAMP
Child Friendly Space (CFS) was established in 2016 as a safe place where children can learn through play and regain a sense of normality in the midst of an emergency. Over the years, the CFS has catered to a variety of age groups ranging from 3 to 10 years old. Currently, the CFS is focused on 3 and 4 year-old children, who have no other formal or non-formal education opportunities in the camp at this time.
The purpose of the CFS is to offer psychosocial support services that reinforce the resilience and wellbeing of children. Using toys that stimulate creative and cooperative play, and offering activities centered around emotional regulation, such as breathing exercises, the CFS allows children to engage with each other as well as with facilitators and volunteers, create art projects and express themselves creatively in a safe environment.
Lighthouse Relief is also committed to identifying and referring vulnerable cases to relevant partners: abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence against children can occur in many different contexts, including as a result of conflict and forced displacement.
Born in 2017 from a youth-led project that identified an unmet need for services targeting young people in Ritsona Camp, the YES is a drop-in center for youth aged 15 and up, bursting with creative projects and diverse voices. The YES is constantly shaped according to the needs of the youth in the camp, who take an active part in creating and leading programming. It is a positive and vibrant space, where young Ritsona residents can engage in a wide and dynamic variety of activities.
The YES functions partly as a drop-in space, where youth can come to access support, socialise and practice art, music or sports. The space includes seating areas, table tennis, art supplies, musical instruments and sewing machines, to enable young Ritsona residents to express themselves and work on shared or personal projects. The YES also offers a variety of workshops, which have included language courses, yoga, photography, and art- depending on the needs and interests of the residents. Workshops are led by staff or volunteers, as well as by community members interested in sharing their skills. From musical performances to volleyball games to creative writing workshops, each day in the YES is packed with action and artwork. The YES gives Ritsona youth a space to create, share, and express themselves fully, rising above the difficult circumstances in Ritsona.
Sports is one of the most crucial psychosocial tools that we can offer young residents of Ritsona Camp – a universal language that bridges differences and allows for relationship and skills building. Through LHR’s sports programming, we offer continuous psychosocial support to children and youth living in Ritsona camp, by providing structured opportunities for social interaction, learning, and play.
Thanks to the support of the SOL Foundation, LHR has been able to expand and build the capacity of our Sports Programme since 2018, offering a myriad of sports, including football sessions with a UEFA certified coach, tennis, badminton, basketball, and volleyball. With the continued support of the SOL Foundation, LHR continues to offer sports activities in 2020, adjusting our target age range to 6-15 year olds in the camp, who otherwise have little access to non-formal education due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
Industry:Non-Profit / Non-Governmental
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