Happy Birthday Thalassa of Solidarity!

Two years ago, a need blossomed an idea and Thalassa of Solidarity became a reality! Despite the adversities, we have created a community of people who live, learn, share and dream together!

Preparing for the resumption of our classes, this weekend we completed a round of support to the families of our trainees –and to homeless refugees- by distributing food and NFI kits, with the contribution of the Choose Love team.

What we encounter every time is a reality that as a society we must not tolerate. But we met hope and many smiles!

We thank Rena, Naya, Petra, Antonis, Nikos, Christophoros, Magda, Katerina, Ahmed, Amin, Ben, Andreas, Christina, Anne, Cyril, the organisations Choose Love, Refugee 4 Refugees, Doctors withour Borders and all those who helped with this action!

Joint statement by 56 civil society organisations regarding the National Recovery Plan

Monday 5th April 2021

On March 23rd 2021, 70 civil society organisations sent an open letter to the Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr. Skylakakis, expressing our concern about the lack of transparency and limited opportunities to participate in the drafting of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. The letter was also copied to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance, and the European Commission Recovery and Resilience Task Force (RECOVER). So far, the government has not responded.

Greece’s cabinet approved the National Recovery and Resilience Plan on 29th March and the government announced it on 31st March. They are expected to submit it to the Greek Parliament within the week. Publicising the document just a few days before submitting it to the European Union for approval, leaves no time for either Greek MPs or civil society to give meaningful feedback on the plan’s content and strategic directions.

In a recent statement, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that the National Recovery Plan concerns all Greek citizens. The signatory organisations strongly believe that the only way to achieve public support for the plan, and for citizens to truly benefit from its implementation, would be to meaningfully engage the public in its design and implementation. Without inclusive participation, the recovery plan is very likely to overlook many of our fellow citizens and critical issues that need support in order to recover from the present crisis and mitigate future ones.

The government’s greatest responsibility going forward, in addition to the proper allocation of available resources to social justice and environmental protection measures, is to ensure that civil society has the chance to participate meaningfully in carrying out the plan’s directives as well as any other activities related to the recovery. Transparency and accountability are also paramount to successfully implementing the plan. In this spirit, we ask the government to immediately explain what it will do to invite the active participation of civil society and ensure parliamentary control and transparency throughout the process.

The open letter sent on March 23, 2021 originally co-signed by 70 organisations that come from a variety of fields (13 more have since added their signatures for a current total of 83) expresses the anxiety felt by a broad swath of civil society organisations about the country’s post-pandemic course. It also emphasises their desire to help design a national recovery plan that truly meets peoples’ needs and paves the way for a sustainable and socially just future. This is a unique opportunity to invest resources for a better tomorrow and it must not be wasted.

Signatory organisations

  1. ActionAid
  2. Action for Wildlife
  3. ANTIGONE – Information and Documentation Centre on Racism, Ecology, Peace and Non Violence
  4. Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation
  5. Arion – Cetacean Rescue and Rehabilitation Research Center
  6. Association for the Protection of Health and Environment of Chalandritsa
  7. Association for the Social Support of Youth
  8. ASSOCIATION OF SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH
  9. Attica Bike Community – Podilattiki Koinotita
  10. Callisto
  11. Centre for Research on Women’s Issues – Diotima
  12. Common Ground Greece
  13. Danish Refugee Council (DRC) 
  14. Doctors of the World Greece 
  15. ECHO100PLUS
  16. Ecocity
  17. Ecological Movement of Patras
  18. Ecological Movement of Thessaloniki
  19. Ecological Recycling Society
  20. Emfasis Foundation
  21. Ethelon
  22. Food On
  23. Friends of Monte
  24. Generation 2.0 for Rights, Equality and Diversity
  25. GIVMED
  26. Greek Housing Network
  27. Greek Forum of Migrants
  28. Greenpeace Greece
  29. Hellenic Liver Patient Association “Prometheus”
  30. Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature
  31. HIGGS
  32. HumanRights360
  33. InCommOn
  34. International Rescue Committee (IRC)
  35. Ithaca Laundry
  36. Lesvos Solidarity
  37. Medasset
  38. Melissa: Network of Migrant Women in Greece
  39. Nature Friends Greece
  40. Network for Children’s Rights
  41. NPO “Me Alla Matia”
  42. Organization Tulipa Gulimi
  43. People Behind
  44. Reading to the Others
  45. Samos Volunteers
  46. Schedia Street Magazine
  47. Social Action and Innovation Center
  48. Society for the Care of Minors and Youth
  49. Steps
  50. Support Center of Children and Family
  51. Τerre des hommes Hellas
  52. Thalassa of Solidarity
  53. The HOME Project
  54. Union for the Protection of the Environment of the Corinthian-Patra Gulf – O Nireas
  55. Wind of Renewal
  56. WWF Greece

The open letter sent on March 23, 2021 co-signed by 83 organisations:

Civil society demands that Greece’s Recovery Plan prioritises making society greener and fairer – Common Ground

70 civil society organisations co-signed an open letter to the Deputy Minister of Finance, Theodoros Skylakakis, initiated by Common Ground and Greenpeace, outlining their priorities for a green and just recovery and seeking more public involvement in developing policies

ATHENS, 23 March 2021 – Greece, like all other member states, has until the end of April to submit a plan to the EU outlining how it will spend the €32 billion it will receive in recovery funds to overcome the effects of the pandemic. Civil society recognises this as an unprecedented opportunity for a truly just, inclusive, and sustainable transition and seeks transparency in the planning process.

So far, civil society has been largely left out of the process and kept in the dark, despite hopes that it would be inclusive and transparent. “It is vital to have full transparency for the sake of monitoring and accountability and in order to keep the citizenry informed, which is essential for the recovery” says Common Ground spokesperson, Dominika Spyratou.

Given that recent crises (economic, refugee reception, pandemic) have deepened social inequalities in Greece, the signatories contend that recovery policies should target typically overlooked populations such as impoverished households, the homeless, migrants, and refugees.  At the same time, they call for policies that prioritise protecting the environment and reducing the effects of climate change in order to ensure a sustainable future and stave off future disasters and displacement.

“On the one hand, we face a pandemic, the collapse of biodiversity, the climate crisis, and increasing social inequalities. On the other hand, we have an opportunity to use the Recovery Fund to protect our health, biodiversity, the planet and to promote social justice not just to pre-pandemic levels, but to make our society stronger, healthier, and more cohesive than ever. Threat and opportunity,” says Nikos Charalambidis, Director of Greenpeace Greece.

Common Ground and the letter’s co-signers urge the Greek government to:

  • Invite the public, and in particular civil society, to submit their proposals for spending the recovery funds before the government submits its final plan in April and ensure their meaningful participation in the plan’s design, implementation and monitoring.
  • Prepare a detailed action plan detailing proposed programmes, objectives, beneficiaries and expected impact, which includes valid environmental, social and economic indicators.
  • Improve clarity and transparency around the process, including regular information exchange sessions with stakeholders and public awareness campaigns.

Why it matters: If the above mentioned measures are implemented as part of a coordinated effort combined with other initiatives and funding opportunities to strengthen public policies, it will lead Greece out of the pandemic and toward a more just and sustainable future.

After years of austerity, the refugee reception crisis and now the pandemic, this large sum of money can enable society to turn a corner and start truly recovering from economic and social problems. To succeed, Greece must avoid repeating the policies of the past that led us to the difficult position we are in today (confronting rising inequalities, polarisation, injustice, biodiversity loss, and the climate crisis).

  • In July 2020, the European Union launched a €750 billion pandemic recovery fund, of which 37% is earmarked specifically for fighting climate change with the rest going toward other investments and reforms to strengthen resilience, a digital transformation, fairness, and macroeconomic stability. EU member states now have until the end of April to submit their final spending plans to account for their share of the financial aid. Greece will receive €32 billion in a combination of grants and loans.

Read the open letter at:

https://commongroundgreece.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Open-Letter-en1.pdf

Housing is an inalienable human right!

Some time ago, a homeless man was found dead on a bench in Heraklion. Today, three young people went missing, trying to warm up in an abandoned building in Thessaloniki.

Their origin? People.

Every day, we at Thalassa of ​​Solidarity witness homelessness and precarious housing for many people living in our city. Beyond all those who are “on the move” for many different reasons, we notice a worrying increase of people living in either dilapidated apartments or abandoned buildings because unemployment and impoverishment leave them to unable to pay rent, pushing them to the brink of despair and forcing them to live in miserable and unsanitary conditions, often without the possibility to bathe, wash their clothes, or use a toilet.

Recently, there has also been a particular persecution of refugees and asylum seekers from the substandard accommodation structures in our country. On the one hand we see more families being evicted as their short-term ESTIA accommodations expire (the temporary housing program covers refugees for one month from the time they are granted asylum and ends immediately if their case is rejected) and facing poverty as their financial support is discontinued. On the other hand, those who manage to rent a house through the IOM’s HELIOS program find it difficult to find work, procure food, and attend online Greek courses that would help them integrate into society. Amidst all this, the FILOXENIA (hospitality) program that places refugees in hotel units across the country is ending. The result? Hundreds of vulnerable people, including those with chronic illnesses, single-mothers, victims of abuse, and families with young children are literally on the street, where they not only face the dangers of homelessness, but fines for violating COVID-related restrictions on movement…

We must keep in mind that we all have the right to safe and decent housing. This includes locals at risk of eviction due to financial difficulties, rising long-term unemployment, foreclosures, and poverty as well as immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers etc. Housing is recognized as one of the fundamental human rights, although in recent years more and more governments and xenophobic voices within societies refuse to accept it. In many parts of the country, and also throughout Europe, there is a considerable stock of unused housing in the form of empty public buildings, closed apartments, abandoned homes, and inactive hotel units. Through simple procedures and minor adjustments, these could be converted into suitable residences for individuals and families. What we need above all, is the political will.

So as we plan the society we want for ourselves and our children, let us raise this constant demand for housing in our conversations. It is something that already concerns thousands of people and will affect even more in the future as struggling economies, climate change, and environmental exploitation will gradually lead to even greater homelessness and displacement. Practical solidarity but also mutual assistance within our societies should be a given. These people are us. And we have the power to change things.

Refugees in Greece: risk of homelessness and destitution for thousands during winter

As winter closes in, thousands of refugees in Greece still face homelessness and destitution. While winter always poses a challenge, this year is likely to become one of the most challenging yet due to the ongoing pandemic, a deliberate decrease in the length of support for refugees, and the lack of a comprehensive integration strategy and strategy against homelessness from authorities. 

Around 11,000 people who were granted asylum were notified amidst a global pandemic that they were going to face forced exits from apartments for vulnerable people (ESTIA), hotel rooms under the Temporary Shelter and Protection program (FILOXENIA), accommodation in camps on the islands and on the mainland. These forced exits follow a government policy where refugees are forced to ‘stand on their own feet and fend for themselves’ within one month after protection status is granted, resulting in an end to accommodation, access to food support, and EU funded cash assistance. 

–Read more–

Update: CAMPAIGN FOR THE FINANCIAL SUPPORT OF THE SOCIAL LAB OF THALASSA OF SOLIDARITY AND COLLECTION OF ESSENTIAL ITEMS FOR PEOPLE IN NEED

In the context of mutual aid and practical support, we continue in the social workshop of Thalassa of Solidarity, the collection of food, cleaning materials and other essential items for people that are in a difficult financial situation and the families of our students.

Items we are collecting: packaged long-lasting food (pasta, rice, pulses, oil vinegar, spices, tomato sauce, honey, jams, biscuits, rusks, etc.)infant and baby milk, baby diapers from No2 – No6, cleaning materials, soap, shower-gel, shampoos and personal hygiene items.

The collection will take place the dates: Tuesday 8th Dec 6-8pm, Wednesday 9th Dec 6-8pm, Thursday 10th of Dec 10am-1pm Friday 11th of Dec 10am-1pm Tuesday 15th Dec 6-8pm, Wednesday 16th Dec 6-8pm, Thursday 17th of Dec 10am-1pm & 6-8pmFriday 18th of Dec 10am-1pm & 6-8pm at our laboratory at 1770 str., no. 34, in the center of Heraklion.

During those hours you can also visit our workshop for purchasing handicrafts and other items for your Christmas presents and more!

* During the collection we all should wear our masks and keep our distance and everything else needed to protect the health of all of us!

** You can contact us at email info@thalassa-solidarity.org, or by message on our FB page @ThalassaSolidarity for any information

*** You can also financially support our social workshop to cover its running monthly expenses, but also to be able to supplement the above mentioned basic needs, mentioning your preference:

Alpha Bank – Acc. Holder: Thalassa of Solidarity AMKE

IBAN: GR2601406640664002002015824

Suspension of courses due to COVID-19 lockdown measures

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DUE to the new COVID-19 lockdown measures our courses are being postponed until the end of November.

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HOWEVER we are in constant communication with our students and friends and we provide them online information and assistance.

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IN CASE extra needs in food and essential supplies will arise, a new call for support and donations will be shared.

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OUR SEWING laboratory will still be able to provide sewing work and repairs, cloth masks, with symbolic fees, to support our lab.

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YOU CAN communicate with us by sending a message in our fb page or an email at info@thalassa-solidarity.org

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KIND REMINDER: our Lab is supported by solidarity actions and voluntary contributions only! How you can help:

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Volunteer your time, skills and expertise to the sewing lab and the seminars we are preparing

Provide equipment for the office, hardware and consumable for the sewing lab and other in kind donations that will help us to jump start our initiative!

Donate any amount you wish to be able to cover part of the running expenses of the sewing lab and for the other activities at the following bank account: Alpha Bank Acc. Holder: Thalassa of Solidarity AMKEBIC: CRBAGRAAIBAN: GR2601406640664002002015824 We keep on helping each other!