The Athens Solidarity Center (ASC) operates as a central hub for civil society organizations in Greece to implement their individual projects, while at the same time providing a space for these organizations to collaborate, co-design programs and jointly execute actions that help address poverty alleviation and social integration for marginalized and vulnerable populations. As ASC continues to operate and grow, it will incorporate lessons learned through innovative approaches, in order to remain a best practice example for future evidence-based policy reform.
The Athens Solidarity Center (ASC) opened its doors in December 2014. It is located on the 2nd floor of a historic building in Athens that has been fully renovated and restored by SolidarityNow for this purpose. The Center has an “open door” policy, meaning it is accessible to all people regardless of nationality, religion, ethnic origin or social status.
The first phase of the Athens Solidarity Center was implemented in partnership with the Municipality of Athens and civil society organizations, including PRAKSIS, ARSIS, Network for Children’s Rights and Together for Children, with the financial support of the European Economic Area Grants (EEA Grants). This collaboration provided free primary healthcare services, legal aid and counseling, employment services to assist with job acquisition and labor market reentry, and a comprehensive service system for mothers and children (Day Center for Children, the 11525 Helpline and a counseling center).
Today, after building on its successful experience and being accordingly reconfigured, it offers an improved and more comprehensive set of services to refugees, migrants and Greeks who are in need, such as:
- Social protection
- Interconnection work
Psychological support – Counseling
- Individual counseling and psychotherapy
- Group counseling for empowerment, integration and personal development
- Legal counselling
- Court Representation (depending on the case)
- Support for unemployed during job search
- Job orientation sessions (CV preparation, personal job plan)
- Employment skills training (job search through internet and newspaper, free use of internet)
- Preparation for interview procedures
- Thematic workshops, seminars and networking with potential employers
- Networking with educational programs (computer, language etc)
Provision of Counseling and Accounting support
- Tax consultancy for individuals
- Counseling and guidance for municipal benefits, social benefits and debt settlements
Child Center (by the “Network for Children’s Rights”) | for children from 0 to 12 years old
- Individual and group pedagogical / creative programs for children. Socialization groups and learning support groups
- Recreational events
- Supportive counseling to parents and children
- Provision of social services and addressing essential needs of children and families, providing information and referrals to social support services and organizations
- Lending library
- Educational programs
- Excursions and cultural visits
[An office of the Asylum Service (state service) is hosted in the Athens Solidarity Center and operates independently on predefined appointments]
Athens Solidarity Center was established through Open Society Foundations and EEA Grants – Norway financial support (EEAGR08.02), in cooperation with the Municipality of Athens until 30.04.2016.
From November 1st 2016 till December 31st 2017, complementary services provided by the ASC were funded by EaSI (Employment and Social Innovation) in the context of “Employment enhancement and Social services integration in Athens Municipality (ESTI@)” program.
From May 1st 2016 till May 22nd 2019, ASC had been financed by SolidarityNow and Open Society Foundations (OSF/OSIFE).