The 1st Job Fair of SolidarityNow is successfully completed!

Alexandros Avramidis for SolidarityNow

“We, at SolidarityNow, believe that the best service for people is to teach them to swim, at the pace they want, at the speed they want”

SolidarityNow’s 1st Job Fair was completed with great success. Refugees, migrants and asylum seekers, agencies, bodies and private companies in Thessaloniki gathered for the first time, sat at the same table and discussed labor issues. At SolidarityNow we believe that refugees’ and migrants’ integration in the Greek society requires equal opportunities and access to the job market. The partnership of -institutional and non-institutional- bodies and stakeholders at our organization’s 1st Job Fair shows that this is possible.

The attendance at the two-day Job Fair (September 26 & 27) has exceeded our expectations. Around 500 people, refugees and migrants looking for work, representatives of organizations and companies came to the organization’s Blue Refugee Center. Specifically, 375 people, women and men aged 18-60, from different countries including Syria, Afghanistan, Cameroon, Nigeria and Iran, participated in the two-day festival. The Fair provided the opportunity to learn about important issues related to their labor rights, to exchange views, to be taught by experienced speakers, to take a professional photo for their resume in the photo booth that was included for this purpose. There was even an original online game application they could play with to help them become familiar with the job search process.

“A man who has no job is going through difficult times”, we could say, paraphrasing the words of the Irish writer George Bernard Shaw. The 1st Job Fair was organized on the occasion of the urgent needs of our beneficiaries. At the Solidarity Centers in Athens and Thessaloniki, as well as at the Blue Refugee Center in Thessaloniki, people from all over the world seek career counseling at the Employability Service, which is provided free of charge. “People are sometimes confused – they think the best “lesson” they can offer to vulnerable people is to embrace them tightly, to keep them in their own lifeboat. At SolidarityNow, we believe that the best service for people is to teach them to swim, at the pace they want, at the speed they want”, said SolidarityNow’s General Manager Antigone Lyberaki on the opening day of the 1st Job Fair, an initiative of the SIRIUS* program.

The businesses and agencies that presented their activities, were in return informed about how to reach out and collaborate with the refugee and migrant population.

We can learn from each other.

Beneficiaries of the organization shared their own success stories in the workplace providing a source of inspiration to all. “The job for us is like our ‘heart’, it gives us life and reason for our existence,” said Deborah from Nigeria, one of the speakers who lives and works in Greece. “Some people have said that they do not rent their shops to refugees. But I found a shop and soon I will open my own pastry shop. All Greeks will soon have my sweets in their fridge. For some this sounds like a joke, but tomorrow you will tell your friends, ‘let’s go for coffee at Lade’. Your opinion of your own life will change. One has to change his life and become more successful”, stressed Loghman, Kurdish from Iran, who did not give up and will open soon his own pastry shop in Thessaloniki.

At SolidarityNow we believe that everyone should have equal access to the labor market and equal opportunities; and the Job Fair was the best channel for this powerful message to be heard. Antigone Lyberaki noted: “The successful completion of the 1st Job Fair for refugees and migrants makes us even more responsible for what we have started. Our next goal is to make this event happen not only in Thessaloniki but also in other Greek cities!”.

* The SIRIUS program “Skills and Integration of Immigrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers in the European Labor Market”, funded by the European Union, started in January 2018 and lasts three years. The program involves 11 actors from 7 countries. The program in Greece is implemented by SolidarityNow.

*The Blue Refugee Center Blue, launched in 2016, is supported by the UNHCR and funded by the European Union.

*The Employment Service operates at SolidarityNow’s Solidarity Centers in Athens and Thessaloniki as well as at the Blue Refugee Center in Thessaloniki, as one of the many services provided free of charge to anyone in need.