We partnered with iAct to deliver trauma-informed care training to refugee parents. We would work with them to bring this empowering opportunity to the urban community.
The Solidarity Centre brings colour to local life and dignity to thousands of refugees currently isolated from it. Through the concept of a co-working space, the Centre provides much-needed services to refugees and locals. Our ethos is simple: refugees are people who must be invested in, not ostracised, and we provide a space where that can happen.
Epirus region of northern Greece (Ioannina and Katsikas)
The Epirus region is a homogeneous area of Greece. Its capital, Ioannina, is a city with an ageing population and rich history, but no cultural diversity. Foreigners stand out. “People are more closed here”, Athenians often say about the locals. Since 2016, thousands of refugees have been moved here from the islands, mixing with a predominantly old local population and a young, transient, student population brought in by its University. It has little in the way of accessible community spaces. Those that exist cater to Greek-speakers only. The arrival of refugees has turned the region's culture heterogeneous, and there is an urgent need for a space where integration can begin to happen before marginalisation becomes entrenched.
For refugees to become active citizens, engaging opportunities need to exist. In Ioannina, nearly 3000 refugees and asylum seekers, transferred from the islands, live in isolation, with little access to local social and cultural life. We know that a community centre can be a catalyst for active citizenship of both locals and newcomers. Such a space existed for three years but closed in March due to funding cuts. It was the hub of community life and gave hundreds of users, both locals and refugees, a place to learn new skills and meaningful opportunities to interact with each-other. For refugees to become the European citizens of tomorrow, a community needs to evolve.
Our project creates a space where activities and services engage the marginalised refugee population with each-other and the local community. There are nearly 2000 refugees and asylum seekers living in protected apartments in the city, and 1700 refugees and asylum seekers living in two camps on the outskirts of the city. Modelled on the concept of a co-working space, the Solidarity Centre project will create opportunities for these groups to meet and engage with each-other. Refugees are not a homogeneous demographic, they represent over 12 ethnicities and can be prejudiced against each other. The engagement of the refugee target group enables the challenging of stereotypes and gives opportunity for meaningful build bonds to develop.
1.Find space to rent
2.Establish community centre team
3.Conduct needs assessment with refugee and local community
4.Seek partnerships with local actors to provide:
- legal aid - Greek Refugee Council
- psychosocial support - KEELPNO
- technical workshops - Habibi.Works
- protection monitoring - UNHCR
- collaborative community activities - Municipality, Perama Youth Centre
- kindergarten - Little Ripples
- language cafes - University of Ioannina
5.Equip the space (equipment, wifi, electricity, water)
6.Establish action plan for opening
7.Establish a schedule of activities
8.Establish centre rules and processes
9.Conduct outreach to refugee community
10.Conduct outreach to local community through local actors
11.Launch Centre opening
12.Conduct program sign-ups
Success will look like this:
1.The establishment of a lively, thriving space where everyone feels equal and the refugee label is eradicated
2.Daily engagement of hundreds of locals and refugees
3.Daily engagement of local actors and community
4.Increase in number of integration activities between refugees and locals
5.Increase in number of refugee-led activities for the community
6.Increase in number of local-led activities for the community
7.Increase in number of locals using the space
8.Demonstrable improvement in language acquisition in refugee population
9.Demonstrable improvement in child participation
10.Increase in number of social interactions between refugees themselves, and refugees and locals
Democracy is a process that must be learnt. For refugees to become active European citizens, they have to be engaged in the culture of the democratic process. At its core are equality, transparency and fairness, which are Second Tree core values. Through our programs refugees strengthen these values and activate their agency. Community is key to a functioning democracy and our strong relationships with the refugee community plays a crucial part in refugee safeguarding. We have created a level of trust that serves as a psychosocial support net for people, and the Solidarity Centre would enable us to scale that beyond the camps. While the physical space will be a local intervention, the impact it has on its users will reverberate throughout Europe.
At a time when anti-migrant, nationalist rhetoric is on the rise, our mission is to uphold Europe's strong human rights foundations. Second Tree was established by a group of volunteers, who independently responded to the refugee crisis in 2016. Inaction was not an option as it stood on the side of the oppressor. Since then, our mission has been to engage refugees as people and move past the prevailing stereotypes of victimisation and romanticisation. The Solidarity Centre would be just that: a space where people, of all backgrounds, can come together to learn from each other; where ideas can come to life; where discussions can be had and where cultures can evolve together.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Estimated costs for a 12-month implementation cycle are:
1. Personnel costs: € 24.897,60
2. Space Rent: € 16.800,00
3. Space Maintenance (electricity, water, heating, internet…): € 12.140,00
The project will be co-financed by us. We have secured the remaining amount of 10936.
Anything at all! We are a very transparent, open and engaged team who have built Second Tree on the feedback, thoughts and intellectual inquiry of others. Your feedback, questions, critiques and ideas are encouraged, as well as any opportunities for collaboration and the strengthening of networks.