The Hellenic Initiative Australia supports the homeless in Athens through partnership with Emfasis Foundation
January 24, 2018
The Hellenic Initiative Australia has announced a new partnership with Emfasis Foundation to support pioneering social street work programs and support services assisting the homeless and vulnerable groups in Athens.
The Hellenic Initiative Australia’s AU$35,000 grant will fund the Emfasis Mobile Support Unit (MSU) Program for 12 months, enabling Emfasis to expand its outreach services supporting people living on the street, on the verge of homelessness or facing serious survival challenges and social exclusion.
Unlike conventional support services that rely on people reaching out to them for assistance, Emfasis sends its Mobile Support Units to neighbourhoods in Athens and Piraeus where homeless and vulnerable groups are living rough. Led by trained Social Street workers and volunteers, MSU units address people’s immediate needs by distributing food and survival kits and also provide a critical link to social support services.
Emfasis conducts detailed demographic mapping of underprivileged areas and populations, in order to identify the exact needs and profile of the vulnerable population, including rough sleepers, families facing unemployment, mental health issues living below the poverty line, youth suffering addiction and “street” children.
THI Australia’s support will play a pivotal role in enhancing the resources dedicated to both our Mobile Units in Athens and Piraeus, enabling us to reach out to more people in need of support, hope and a better future.” – Maria Karra
Emfasis works with the local community, including social workers, sociologists, psychologists and other specialists and trained volunteers to improve the personal and living conditions of those in need. Their holistic approach aims to empower people to reintegrate and access social services and medical care, from helping them re-establish ID card or social insurance benefits, to accompanying them to medical and other follow-up and support services.
During a visit to Athens in January, THI Australia President Nicholas Pappas met with the Mobile Support Unit and also met Dubai-based Emfasis Founding Member, Maria Karra.
“THI Australia is proud to be supporting the Emfasis Foundation’s groundbreaking social street work programs, which are assisting those most vulnerable andaffected by the deep socio-economic crisis in Greece, said THI Australia President Nicholas Pappas. “This grant represents an exciting new partnership and we are pleased to be working with the inspirational and dedicated team at Emfasis,” he said.
The Emfasis Foundation partnership is the first new grant announced from proceeds raised during The Hellenic Initiative Australia’s One Greece 2017 campaign. The Hellenic Initiative Australia has committed more than $500,000 to its Crisis Relief Program over the next three years.
“THI Australia’s support will play a pivotal role in enhancing the resources dedicated to both our Mobile Units in Athens and Piraeus, enabling us to reach out to more people in need of support, hope and a better future,” said Ms Karra.
“Human dignity remains the core ingredient of any healthy society and we are thrilled that the grant will offer our street workers the means to support and spread optimism and solidarity to people in dire need.”
“With 15 per cent of the population living in extreme poverty, unemployment, low morale, anxiety and financial burdens have driven many households into despair,” said Ms Karra. “The people we meet on the streets are people who have suffered adversity in life and were not as lucky as most of us to bounce back. They need to feel that they have not been totally forgotten and that there are still people who care and want to help them,” she said.
Emfasis Foundation is a non-profit organisation founded in 2013 to address the holistic needs of street-connected vulnerable and socially excluded groups such as homeless – rough sleepers, unemployed, families below the poverty line, elderly at the verge of homelessness and troubled youth in a street situation. Its main work method is Social Street Work and outreach with a 40-strong team of expert volunteer street workers.
To date the organisation has clocked more than 120,000 volunteering hours, run 14 relief programs and campaigns and touches the lives of more than 3,000 people annually.
Photo Credits: Solonas Malkas photography