We have been busy preparing our accounts for 2019 to submit to the Charity Commission, and are delighted to announce that 2019 was our best year yet in regard to how much aid we funded. We are delighted that we were able to fund nearly £46,000 of aid to refugees and asylum seekers in Greece, working collaboratively with our amazing partners. Being a small charity, our overheads are minimal, and just 2% was spent on administrative costs, and 1% on fundraising costs. This truly goes to show that when we say every penny helps to make a difference, it really does! What an incredible achievement which would not have been possible without the backing from you- our amazing supporters. Thank you!
Whats the current situation?
The number of refugees and asylum seekers in Greece has risen steadily since the end of last year to around 120,000. Although we have seen arrivals decrease on the islands since the outbreak of Covid 19, the 5 hotspot camps on the islands remain critically overcrowded with around 40,000 residents. The conditions in the camps continue to be horrific and squalid.
According to UNHCR, 7569 people have arrived to the Greek islands and 2072 by land to Greece this year alone at the time of composing this update. Afghans (45%) and Syrians (23%) account for the biggest percentage of new arrivals by sea. In the island camps, women account for 23% of the population, and children 33%, of whom an estimated 6 out of 10 are younger than 12 years old. Some 13% of the children are unaccompanied.
There is great nervousness about Covid 19 reaching the hotspots as the effects would be devastating. Many people in the camps are already suffering from poor health, often without adequate access to medical assistance.
Residents of the hotspot camps are simply not able to adhere to guidelines such as social distancing and basic hygiene recommendations. Some facilities on the Greek mainland have already experienced confirmed cases of the illness.
Our partners at the Greek Council For Refugees took a call for help from a homeless asylum seeker in Thessaloniki who said ” I haven’t actually understood what’s going on, what I do know is that I am not allowed to wander around the streets. I found an old train wagon and I stay here all day. I had not eaten for 4 days and I was about to be in total despair. I have heard that I have to wash my hands. With water? Where can I find water here? When I manage to find some water, I save it and I drink little by little every day to keep me alive”.
We have been in contact with all of our partners to find out how they are adapting in these unprecedented times, and its so inspirational to hear about their tenacity to continue to help and make a difference.
What have we been up to?
Well, quite a lot since we last wrote to you in November last year! Following the success of a pilot scheme we funded earlier in 2019, in collaboration with Hestia Hellas we funded the full roll out of a scheme to provide glasses to refugees and asylum seekers in Athens. The funding included frames and lenses, the salary of an eye screening officer and co-coordinator (recruited from the refugee community), marketing material and transportation costs. You can watch a short video about the program by clicking here
We have partnered with The Orange House in Athens for several years now, and at the end of last year, we funded the creation of a new office space for their resident lawyer in their new centre, to allow for a dignified and private space for them to operate in with their beneficiaries.
Mid December 2019, in collaboration with our friends at ECHO100Plus we ran a successful fundraiser which helped to fund blankets (pictured) and sleeping mats for the 1000 or so refugees that were sleeping in derelict buildings and makeshift tents outside the Leros hotspot as it was so over capacity. More recently we were successful in our application for a grant which has been sent in its entirety to ECHO100Plus to support their vital outreach program on Leros.
Mid December 2019, I headed out to Athens to catch up with our partners. It was a whirlwind trip meeting 9 different organisations in just a couple of days. We help to finance an emergency fund that the social workers at The Greek Council For Refugees use for the most vulnerable cases. I was humbled when I met them and they told me about how far the money goes into making such a positive difference. They really couldn’t do a lot of the work they do without this financial support, and recorded a short video with their thanks you can view here I was left speechless and in awe after GCR took me to see their integration project in the city, as well as the safe zone they run for unaccompanied minors in the Eleonas camp. Speaking to the mental health specialists working in the safe zone, the deep trauma that some of the youngsters have been through is truly horrific.
Recognizing its importance, it was great to hear that the info map project run by the team at The Khora has been reinvigorated, and we will continue to sponsor this moving forwards.
We continue to pay the rent for a vulnerable family in Athens in collaboration with Cribs International The restrictions in movement due to Covid 19 has meant that the art workshops run by Love Without Borders have been put on hold. Therefore we have been supporting Kayra by helping to fund supermarket vouchers for the vulnerable families she works with.
Joel- Founder and Chair of Trustees
We need you!
Along with businesses and charities worldwide, we are now facing one of our most challenging periods due to the Coronavirus. Its normally now that we and our supporters are preparing for summer fundraising where a substantial amount of our income is made, however this is now not guaranteed. We are focused on continuing to make a difference, no matter what, but we need your support. Don’t forget, you don’t have to donate money to help us, you can share our message, and social media channels.
Our amazing friend Madeline at bymeeni created the beautiful HOPE paper cut (pictured) for us. We have added this to our range of organic cotton t-shirts which you can purchase in our store by clicking here (take advantage of free shipping this weekend 01/05-03/05). We have also placed it onto an e-card which you can send with your own message of hope to someone special by clicking here
Stayed tuned to our social media channels to keep up to date with news about the situation in Greece as well as what we are up to.
A huge, genuine and sincere thank you to everyone who has contributed to ASN Team UK in any way, shape or form over the last year. I wish that everyone was able to see first-hand what an amazing difference we are making to so many people in so many different ways. We couldn’t do this without you. You are making amazing changes to peoples lives. We work hard to make sure that your donations have maximum positive impact. We really are powered by you! Thank you.
Joel, Denise, Donna and Sean