Summer 2019 Round Up

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The Current Situation

Arrivals to the Greek islands have surged this year, especially during the latter half of the summer.  The number of refugees and asylum seekers in Greece has sharply risen from around 70,000 in the spring to some 85,000 now.  Its estimated that some 35,000 people are held on the islands leading the hotspot camps to become seriously and critically overcrowded.  This has led to numerous issues and serious problems over the summer.

There are nearly 5,000 unaccompanied minors in the country, and sadly not all are in appropriate accommodation or shelter.  Over the summer, many squats in the cities have been evicted meaning there has been a focus on integrating people and supporting self sufficiency.

Numerous gaps in care remain prevalent, and the situation continues to evolve.  The way that we operate means that we are able to respond quickly and efficiently to needs.

Our partnerships with the organisations we work with are solid, and it has been amazing to see the difference that we have been able to make.  This would not have been possible without the help of our incredible supporters.

gcr1The Greek Council For Refugees

We have been really pleased to have provided monthly funding to the Greek Council For Refugees

Our regular contributions now help fund their emergency fund.  This focuses on providing emergency aid to the most vulnerable cases.  Some examples of what this provides includes medical treatment, emergency accommodation, transport for lawyer/asylum appointments, activities for vulnerable children, supporting asylum applications, disability equipment aids, funeral expenses, food vouchers, baby supplies, school supplies, hygiene items, the list goes on!  How much we contribute each month solely depends on how much income we have had in donations.

You can help by signing up to make a monthly contribution via our secure donate platform.

A New Collaboration

In June we entered into a new collaboration with Hestia Hellas, when we funded a pilot project to train 5 community leaders in eye screening.  This meant they were aeyeble to provide eye screenings and hand out 100 pairs of glasses to communities in need.  This project was a success, and we are now looking at funding the project in its ent
irety for 3 months.  We are committing to 3 months at the moment based on the budget we have.  Following this period we hope to be in a position to be able to commit further.

There’s More!

Summer saw festival season get into full swing.  Its been our busiest summer by far!
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We continue to fund the monthly rent for a vulnerable Afghan family in Athens and have recently entered into an exciting partnership with Sussex Prairie Gardens to help make a difference through art with our ongoing collaboration with Love Without Borders

Responding to urgent needs in Leros and in collaboration with ECHO100Plus, we have funded some bulk buys of nappies, push chairs, baby supplies and ladies sanitary items, and continue to send out donated toiletries on a regular basis.

In September, we were made aware of a dire need of funds for food in Symi which had seen an increase in arrivals, and no infrastructure to support this.  In response, we were pleased to have been able to help by sending a grant to our friends at Symi Volunteers.

Aegean Solidarity Network Team UK remains entirely voluntarily run and we keep our overheads minimal so your donations have maximum positive impact. The aid and support we are able to offer is powered by your donations. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our work, either financially, by amplifying our message or by giving up your time. A special thanks to Bearwood Action For RefugeesKings Heath Action For RefugeesEast Hoathly and Halland Village of Sanctuary and St Peters Mission Group, whose constant fundraising efforts are pivotal to our work. You can support us by donatingpurchasing from our unique clothing line, or by fundraising for your next event on Just Giving or Facebook.

Shocking Stats and News Forgotten by our Media and our News Round up

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Do people still ask you if the refugee crisis in Greece is still happening?  Its something we often get asked, and people can be forgiven for asking since the desperate situation seems to have been long forgotten by our media.

The number of refugees and asylum seekers in Greece has risen steadily this year and is now estimated to be at well over 70,000. Many of these people are merely surviving in deplorable conditions in camps. The 5 hotspot camps on the islands remain critically over populated, and many gaps in care remain. There are many emergency cases such as the 200 or so unaccompanied minors waiting for accommodation in Athens, and many people continue to suffer deep psychological issues without adequate and necessary support.

On the mainland, the government has started to evict people who have been granted asylum from their accommodation, and is removing their cash card assistance. Why? Possibly to make room for transfers from the islands. Where will they go and what will they do? We don’t know, but there is a need to integrate people and help make them self sufficient which we are trying to respond to.

So far this year, it’s reported that around 14,000 people have attempted to journey to the Greek islands in flimsy rubber boats from Turkey. Of these, around 5000 have reportedly reached the Greek islands, whilst the remainder were intercepted by the Turkish coastguards and were returned to Turkey.

March this year also sadly saw a number of fatalities. On the 7th March, 1 man and 2 children died after their boat sank off Samos, on the 10th March the body of a child washed up on a beach in Lesbos. On the 26th March at least 4 people- a baby and 3 women died when their boat heading for Lesbos sank off the coast of Turkey, and on the 28th March- 2 people were reported missing after their boat crashed into rocks on the coast of Chios.

Our Team have spent some time in Athens and the islands this year (self funded) fostering the great relationships we have with the organisations we work with, building new relationships, understanding the situation more clearly, and working on the ground. It’s important to us that we stay well connected and up to date with the situation to help us to respond to needs most efficiently.

Many of the organisations we work with identify with the trend of fundraising becoming more challenging, but united in our mission, we remain dedicated in solidarity to make a difference.

Building Opportunities shop

We recognise the need to help people rebuild their lives and livelihoods in Greece, and have responded to this as much as we have been financially able to.  Our friends at Zaatar who run the Orange House were given the opportunity to turn a space in the centre of Athens into a shop. We helped to fund the work needed to make this possible, and the shop has been up and running successfully for a few months. The gifts, clothing, art and jewellery on sale is all made by people in the refugee community giving them a purpose, and the space is also run by a member of the refugee community.

FORGE for humanity is a small NGO whose focus is on providing a vast array of support forgeto the often overlooked single male population. Their resident translator is from the refugee community and speaks a number of languages catering for over 80% of their beneficiaries. We have committed to fund his work on an ongoing monthly basis.

In addition, we have committed to fund a stipend for a young man from the refugee community who dedicates much of his time to support the work of Medical Volunteers in Athens providing critical outreach care. d

These regular commitments can sometimes be challenging for us to sustain as we don’t always know how much income we can generate month to month. You can help by signing up to make a monthly contribution via our secure donate platform.

How else we’ve made a difference so far this year

In collaboration with Cribs International, we have been sponsoring the private monthly rent for a vulnerable Syrian family  in Athens for some time now. Earlier this year, they were finally relocated to Germany, and we helped to fund their flights. A vulnerable Afghan family have since moved into the property. The 44812345_1925449927758009_9075135982277230592_ncouple have 3 boys- an 8 month old, 5 year old and 10 year old. The father was a mechanic in their homeland, and the family fled from Afghanistan due to the threat from the Taliban. They are dedicated to providing security, safety and education for their children and it’s been amazing to see their eldest boys Greek language blossom. We continue to fund their rent, and we were also pleased to cover a months rent for all 6 families in Cribs care earlier this year.

The Orange House recently moved location, and were grateful to us for funding the new 6 bunk beds for the centre. The wooden framed bunk beds from the previous location had fallen into disrepair, so the new metal frames ones we purchased will be more durable. In addition, we have just funded 3 months stationary supplies to support the Orange Houses comprehensive education program. 50882580_1978099782493023_8097302006357557248_n

We were successful in applying for a grant from a trust fund, and the entire amount awarded was given to Samos Volunteers to help support their amazing work on Samos.

In addition, we continue to support ECHO100Plus on Leros with the provision of hygiene items which are distributed to the residents of the islands hotspot camp, and have provided a number of grants to the Greek Council For Refugees to help fund their work with emergency cases.

52683043_1991402281162773_2050203141256773632_nTeddies

This handsome collection of 30 teddies were created in America by a lady called Margaret, who knitted the “skins”. She sent them flat to us in the UK where our 2 friends Toni and Rodanthi worked hard to stuff and complete them. We then took them to Greece where they were distributed in one of the children’s art workshops run by Kayra where we fund the food for the gathering. It was amazing to feel the buzz of the workshop that we were privileged to attend in March, and to see the joy that these gorgeous teddies bought to the children.

Thank you for powering us!

Aegean Solidarity Network Team UK remains entirely voluntarily run, so your donations have maximum positive impact. The aid and support we are able to offer is powered by your donations. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our work, either 52156771_1989030008066667_1678918250903109632_nfinancially, by amplifying our message or by giving up your time. A special thanks to Bearwood Action For Refugees, Kings Heath Action For Refugees, East Hoathly and Halland Village of Sanctuary and St Peters Mission Group, whose constant fundraising efforts are pivotal to our work. You can support us by donating, purchasing from our unique clothing line, or by fundraising for your next event on Just Giving or Facebook.

 

 

Community Refugee Volunteers

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Donna from our team has just returned from 6 weeks volunteering in Athens where the situation for refugees is so much worse than it was last winter. Now the world doesn’t view it as a crisis, fewer funds are available, news doesn’t reach the UK and the numbers of volunteers and services have decreased dramatically. Sadly the 70,000+ people trapped in Greece are mostly forgotten by the rest of the world but we at ASN Team UK and our partner NGOs continue to work in difficult conditions to do the best we can for people who need help most.

While working with Medical Volunteers International (MVI) who are a team of volunteer doctors, nurses, paramedics and medical students from all over the world that provide free medical treatment in squats, social and community centres, refugee camps, via street outreach and are currently setting up a permanent clinic in Athens Donna approached our board with an important, often overlooked funding request.

Many donors and volunteers do not realise the essential role of community refugee volunteers to the work that all grassroots NGOs do.

In the case of MVI it is wonderful that so many medical professionals continue to volunteer, often during their holidays and a network of amazing donors ensure access to medication and supplies but without the refugee volunteers it would be impossible to treat patients safely and use those supplies.

Refugee volunteers, usually young men who are trapped in Greece alone and without family support, who carry deep personal and emotional scars, who are struggling to find their place in Europe and who many people view negatively are the heart of the majority of small NGOs. It is them who truly understand what life is like for the refugees we help. It is them who build trust between the refugee community and NGO. It is them who have to hear hundreds of stories of suffering every month and translate it to the international volunteers. It is them who have to explain complex and sensitive information to the patients. It is them who are always on call to translate in an emergency. It is them who are so committed to helping their community that they use their small UNHCR cash allowance to buy a homeless person a sandwich or take patients to hospital to act as translators. It is them who work every day for months on end. And most importantly it is them who need extra support.

While international volunteers self fund their trips these amazing young guys simply don’t have that luxury. During the extrordinarily cold weather of the last month in Athens one of my refugee translators gave his last pair of socks to a young boy who had the cold and he ended up with the same cold as a result….. They are truly selfless superstars

In an ideal world all community volunteers should be compensated for their time but many donors specify which aid the donation is to be spent on meaning many NGOs are unable to pay these guys.”

From December we at ASN will pay a small monthly stipend to one of the MVI refugee volunteers. We would love to be able to pay both stipends but in order to do that we need more funds from you, our amazing donors! Could you commit to a monthly donation? Our charity checkout link can be found here www.asnteamuk.charitycheckout.co.uk

Learn more about MVI here. https://www.facebook.com/medicalvolunteersinternational/

For more information on how important refugee volvolunters are https://www.opendemocracy.net/…/refugee-to-refugee-humanita…

Donna