7. Social Hub @ Evosmos. Inclusion, Environment, Power

Empowerment, Inclusivity, Environment:

The Social Hub @ Evosmos was not only an integral part of the supported accommodation project, but also a vital means to include and empower the local host community too.

The inclusion of the local neighbourhood population not only encouraged integration of the refugees but also provided much needed support, training, skills and economic input to the area, that had been suffering from a lack of investment, problems of unemployment and other socio-economic issues for many years.

In order for a social housing project with residents from outside the area / country to be truly effective, the local community requires support, not just the residents.

Too often, refugees are housed in areas in which the host community is low-income and struggling to meet their own basic needs. If newcomers are given housing, jobs, cash cards and access to facilities that the hosts (citizens and tax-payers) have either been denied by their government (or perceive they have been denied) then an immediate tension is created that can lead to long term problems. Many communities in Greece, still suffering the protracted effects of the financial crisis, should not be expected to host additional people, unless they too, are given the same support as the ‘newcomers’. Therefore the Social Hub was a place and a means through which the local host community could not only interact with the residents of the accommodation project and assist in their integration, but also access the same facilities, learn skills, share ideas and be active members of running the Hub.

The facilities were managed and run by the accommodation residents and the local community in partnership.

The community social space consisted of 3 large spaces and a basement storage facility.

The flexibility of the spaces lent itself to all types of community events and a sense of common ownership was established. This empowered residents to create community-led events, such as birthday parties for children and other creative communal events.

The areas were used for a wide range of training classes, child care, creative activities, community meetings and service provision.

The Community Social Space consisted of 3 large spaces and a basement storage facility.

  • The first space was multi-use and was commonly used for the community
  • cafe, art classes, and residents’ meetings.
  • The second area was a dedicated children’s space.
  • The third area was arranged into a 2-room medical clinic due to the privacy provided for community members. All medical and dental assessments took place there as well as the mother/baby group.

Previously, the space had been used for the Filoxenia Free Shop where residents could shop for fresh fruit and vegetables and other cooking items until the cash card program was implemented.

Collaborating partners provided consistent feedback that residents felt a sense of belonging and community by being able to access this shared space.

Within the Social Hub, in addition to the variety of classes, services and activities,a ‘Social Cafe’ was also run:

The Social cafe: A series of recreational, environmental and cultural activities through participatory planning and peer-to-peer training processes, under the guidance of experienced volunteers. The categories of activities were a. environmental issues and ecological living b. artistic expression of individual and collective crisis (both the trauma of migration and the experience of the Greek financial crisis), c. the exchange of cultures and d. human rights on a healthy planet.

Landscape: organised and carried out Mobile Daily Actions to raise awareness and inform citizens of Northern Greece about immigration due to economic, political and environmental factors.