Refugee Youth Service (RYS) was founded in January 2016 to protect unaccompanied children residing in the informal Calais ‘Jungle’ Refugee Camp, northern France.
Velos Youth was registered by RYS in 2017 in order to hire local staff and begin the journey of founding and nurturing an autonomous organisation that would eventually be entirely locally led, independent of RYS. Towards the end of 2017 the project began to undergo a number of changes that would ultimately see the rise of this local leadership. Velos Youth has become an essential sanctuary for displaced youth in Athens.
Velos Youth has been in partnership with Hellenic Red Cross‘ mobile unit providing medical outreach and vaccinations. They have also implemented the “Boys on the Move” health awareness project. The partnership is active as of June 2018 and continues to provide medical attention, vaccinations, health awareness, as well as the medical examinations needed for school enrolment.
In 2018 Velos Youth cooperated with the Society of Social Psychiatry and Mental Health (SSP & MH) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC), to provide group art therapy workshops as well as individual mental health sessions, carried out by experienced professionals. The collaboration was highly effective in reaching young people who needed such services, but had difficulties accessing them or sticking with them.
We have just started a new project funded by the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM) to better support young people transitioning to adulthood.
Echo Refugee Library has been teaming up with Velos for several months now, providing to Velos Youth service users access to books and printed material in their native languages (Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Pashtu, Kurdish, French etc…). This rare opportunity in the Athens context has been made possible through the mobile library and volunteers unfolding their love for books once a week at Plateia Egyptou just outside Velos. A really encouraging sight to see young people living in really precarious conditions borrowing books, hoping from something better.
Free Movement Skateboarding has been a regular partner in providing an exciting outdoor activity for young people. Free Movement Skateboarding’s approach of promoting self-worth and fulfillment, inclusiveness and friendship, and their commitment to safety and safeguarding has been resonating with Velos’s own values and outlook. Skateboarding sessions happen every Monday afternoon. Here is a video of Velos skateboarding!
Velos is a place for diverse youth to meet, exchange experience and ideas, and empower each other, as persons, not as impersonal profiles. The collaboration with “Time To Be Welcome” volunteers, made possible through the Scouts of Greece mediation, has contributed greatly to this convivial purpose.
“Time To Be Welcome” is an Erasmus+ funded Project implemented and supported by 10 partner organizations from around Europe. Volunteers have been bringing their unique creative energy and valuable help to Velos. They join the everyday life of their more disenfranchised peers in Velos service and offer practical assistance and a variety of perspectives.
The United Pony Caravan, a privately funded organization aims to aid refugee young people to cope with trauma and distress through horse riding.
Now finished, Velos was one of the sites through which they were able to connect with youth.
Amaka, a art therapy and volunteering organisation, provided Velos with quality expressive workshops which resonated very positively with service users. Here is a short story from those workshops.
Humanity Crew is an international aid organization specializing in the provision of first response mental health interventions and psychological aid to refugees and people in crises. They work to deploy mental health and psychosocial support to displaced populations in order to improve their mental health and well being, to restore order in their lives, and to prevent further psychological escalation. Humanity Crew recruits, trains, and deploys mental health professionals and qualified volunteers to deliver psychosocial relief and we do this through community-based activities, focus groups, individual sessions, and training. They seek to create a world in which mental health support is a fundamental component in all emergency efforts for victims of humanitarian crises. Humanity Crew will be cooperating with Velos during Autumn in order for their services to reach young people who need them but have difficulties accessing them.
RLS is a legal organization which offers pro bono legal advice and casework to individuals who wish to pursue their asylum claim in Greece or to join family members/relatives in another country of Europe. One of our main aspirations is to reach out to underserved communities, support other practitioners in Greece by sharing our knowledge and expertise and to establish solid pathways of collaboration with organizations that work with asylum seekers and refugees. Velos partnered with RLSA so that service users of Velos could benefit from both the provision of in-house legal information and initial assessments of their legal needs as well as a direct referral pathway. Unfortunatley this partnership end in June 2019 due to funding cuts.
PROGRAMMED PARTNERSHIPS & COLLABORATIONS
Empowering & enabling young people to change their world and ours