Spring 2020 Update

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!

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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.

leros2Mid 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.

Athens

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. athens

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.  hope

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

We are registered with JustGiving so why not choose ASN Team UK for your next fundraising campaign?  Or sign up to make a regular donation via our charity checkout platform.

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

 

 

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.