It’s #Day5 | Campaign Update

Today is #Day5 of our Crowdfund Campaign and we wanted to say a big thank you from the Velos Youth team for everyones energy, commitment and support this week. It has gone better than we could have hoped! 

So far we have raised an incredible £1,638 and are on track to reach our goal!

We are still counting on your support though!

We hope to distribute as many essential items to young people like Haji and maintain contact even through this difficult lockdown. Please continue to help us reach as many people as possible so more are informed and can join our efforts to make a difference. 

Together, let’s continue supporting Haji and thousands of other young people this winter!

Follow the campaign in English & Greek on Instagram and Facebook.

Thank you so much for you continuous support & Stay safe!

Lockdown 2.0 – Moving online

After a few very successful months filled with resilience, creativity, and collaboration, a second lockdown has found our youth centre in November. After a rapid increase in Covid-19 cases in Greece, the Greek government announced a nation-wide lockdown from the 7th to the 30th of November.

For this reason, our youth centre must remain closed until the end of the quarantine period.

Nonetheless, our team of social workers, youth workers, cultural mediators and admin staff is still working online! In the next few weeks, we will try our best to reach out to those most affected by this second lockdown, and remain accessible, creative and resilient by working together.

Please share this message and inform any young people aged 16-21 who need support to reach us via email, or through a private message on our social media – Facebook – Instagram

We will keep our social media channels updated with any updates or expansion of our operations.

We hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.

A safe space for young people

Covid-19 and all its implications put Velos Youth in a pathway of heightened flexibility and innovation. After many changes (virtual work, a continued appointment system, etc) the Velos team has continued working hard to bring back one of the most crucial elements of our work: providing a safe space for young people. In a month like August, during the crisis of the current pandemic and the situation refugees and migrants are facing in Athens, most of the young people visiting us are experiencing extremely vulnerable circumstances.

With up to 12 young people in the space at each time, our youth centre has returned to being a hub of energy and empowerment. Additionally, the continuous use of masks, frequently sanitising our hands, keeping necessary physical distance when possible, and other precautions make the Velos Youth centre as safe as right now possible. The feelings that come with dancing and singing together, taking part in a ping pong tournament, watching videos on Youtube, hanging around in a space where you know you will be heard and respected, and with talking with a professional who can listen to you and support you; these feelings are irreplaceable, and we hope every young person who visits our space can feel safe.

Although the future is unknown, we are proud and happy to be remaining adaptable and active in order to take advantage of all opportunities that come our way. For now, we are able to provide a safe environment for those visiting us, and an environment filled with opportunity, interaction and energy.

To keep up with our activities, check out our Facebook & Instagram accounts!

Preparations for Covid-19 with MSF

Two weeks ago the Velos Youth team engaged in a discussion facilitated by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Covid-19 where we learnt useful information about the virus and had multiple of our questions and concerns answered.

Additionally, a detailed discussions and consultation with the MSF team around personalised recommendations have helped us make our space and activities safer for us and the young people visiting us. 

This collaboration was part of MSF’s efforts to collate important information shared by the World Health Organisation and other credible sources around protection from Covid-19 and share it with organisations around Athens like Velos Youth.

We would like to thank MSF for this initiative and collaboration as their support has given us the confidence we needed to continue expanding our operations, slowly return to our “normality”, and safely support the young people who seek us.

Velos Youth goes online

After a ministry announcement, Velos was forced to close the youth center on the 12th of March due to the threat of Covid-19. Despite the fact that this decision disrupted the daily activities, schedule and routine of both Velos Youth and the young people coming to Velos, it was a necessary measure to ensure the safety, health and well-being of all involved. Despite our closure, we are committed in continuing to provide support to all young people who seek it.

On the last day prior to this closure, we informed the young people about the circumstances, gave out maps of organisations giving food on a daily basis, and shared four different channels through which they could get in touch with us if they wanted support – Phone, WhatsApp, Facebook & Instagram.

Since then, our team has continued working online from the beginning of the lockdown until the 6th of April, when we decided to put half the team on furlough due to the decrease in workload. This way we were also able to use the support offered by government’s {Greece/UK}, saving money that can be used for future and emerging needs.

For the remainder of our closure, the other half of the team remains virtually active! Our social worker and cultural mediator have been contacting the young people via WhatsApp and having 1-1 conversations, as the need to support the young people who are between the ages of 16-21 still remains. A number of them do not have a stable and secure place to stay and are struggling to meet their basic needs, such as food and showers. We are able to direct them to these services by remaining up to date on what is open and what has closed or changed service delivery.

We also remain active on our social media, answering the young people who contact us and collaborating with the social worker to schedule a 1-1 with each young person when needed. Further, after communicating with the young people we became aware of the boredom and lack of motivation many of them are experiencing. We therefore created a private Facebook group (aka #VelosCity) for the young people to connect with each other and share their ideas and thoughts. In this group, we share fun activities and information about learning languages (Greek and English) and games around arts, music, geography, and more. Although it is a difficult period for all of us, we continue to encourage young people to use this time productively where possible.

Finally, the “Transitioning to Adulthood” project continues through our continued communication and collaboration with our partners, Human Rights 360 and Babel DC. Via virtual meetings we continue discussing certain parameters of the project and seeing how we can sustain working together to support the young people in this situation and through this project. Apart from these meetings, our social worker is in frequent contact with professionals in HR360 and Babel DC, regarding the well-being of the young people who have been included in the project so far.

Receiving support at Velos

As a safe space for young people, Velos Youth aims to support those who visit us holistically. For many, we are a “home away from home” and a place to escape. However, we recognise how important support and guidance on material and procedural matters is too!

Our Youth Work team aims to provide the support each individual needs! Through our referral system and by utilising our collaborations and recognising the diversity of services provided across Athens, we connect every young person to the service he/she needs and support their progress and communication after they have been referred.

Some of the most common needs involve finding education and employment opportunities, legal and medical support, and access to basic needs such as clothes and shoes.

When it comes to education, we support young people in setting learning goals and guide them to find available courses, communicate with educators, use learning resources, and more. Similar support is provided for young adults who are seeking employment. We direct them to our partners who can give them advice on finding available work opportunities, writing a CV, preparing for an interview and obtaining the necessary legal documentation to be eligible to work in Greece.

Additionally, here young people can get easy access to legal information and guidance on where to get more specialised legal support. They can also be assisted in booking medical appointments and in finding appropriate locations to meet their medical needs. We have also welcomed individuals with legal and medical expertise in our space!

Our team aims to stay knowledgable and up to date to accurately support each young person, and as we have grown these past few months we hope to do an even better job for whoever comes to this ‘home’.

Conversation of two young people visiting Velos Youth:

First young person: “These people they are just so great, they help me. I have so many problems outside of here, but I come here and they help me so much.” 

Second young person: “I was exactly like this two years ago, and they helped me too! Now I have a job, I’m in school and I stay in an apartment.” 

16 year old from Afghanistan

“[Youth worker] is the reason that my family reunification was successful, because he made sure I had a lawyer and social worker. He guided me every step of the way.”

Transitioning to Adulthood: A Path to Autonomy and Self-Reliance

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Given the complex needs of young displaced persons in Athens, a holistic approach to transitioning to adulthood and integration is essential. Velos Youth has recently secured funding from the European Program for Integration and Migration in order to enhance those areas of its program that are closely linked to this. In partnership with HumanRights360 and Day Centre Babel we have developed and will deliver a new initiative titled ‘Transitioning to Adulthood: A Path to Autonomy and Self-Reliance’. This project will enhance the work of Velos Youth, supporting young people to restart and rebuild their lives. We will fill the three main gaps highlighted by two years of working with this age group in Athens: social integration activities, employability, and access to consistent psychological care. We have partnered with HumanRights360 to replicate and tailor their recently piloted employability program, and with Day Centre Babel to provide long-term psychological care. Together we will also develop a new advocacy strategy tailored by the challenges faced by these young people.

We will support young people to re-start their lives through providing or supporting access to:

  • Safe space: Participants have access to the Velos Youth Centre, an established safe space, where they can participate in activities offered, access basic services, emotional support and guidance from a team of professionals.
  • Case Management: The social workers at Velos Youth meet with young people 1:1 to identify their immediate needs, through a registration process. Based on the needs established the individual is connected to specialist services (psychological support, medical care, legal advice, accommodation registration for minors etc.).  Through the registration process young people are placed on the case management system that monitors their needs, sets goals and tracks their process.
  • Psychological support: Young people in need of psychological support will be referred to Babel. They will provide clinical assessments, counselling and psychotherapy either in a 1:1 or in a group setting. Babel will also provide support to the individual’s environment including his/her family, staff and professionals that support them, in order to provide a more holistic approach.
  • Education: As each young person has a different educational background and future expectations, Velos Youth developed a tool called LEAP (Learning & Education Action Plan). LEAP fosters 1:1 dialogue in order for young people to make sense of their learning and educational realities, which also allows the discussion to proceed with the planning of small and staggered goals. Learning is supported with referrals to public schools, language courses and extracurricular activities. Velos staff also support learning by offering support for homework.
  • Employability support: HumanRights360 will lead the employability support for young adults. An Employability Councillor will aid in recording their typical and soft skills, offer guidance on the possibilities of vocational training, as well as other tools available (eg. work permits, “vouchers” for employability, internships etc.), based on their needs and aspirations. They will receive guidance on accessing the labour market, write a CV, and prepare for an interview. The Employability Counsellor will reach out to private companies with the aim of creating a network of companies interested in employing young refugees.
  • Referral pathway to the HumanRights360 integration programme: Young people will learn how to gain the necessary documentation for accessing the labour market while learning how to use these services as independently as possible.
  • Support to securing accommodation: With guidance the participants will be aided in securing accommodation. The project will support young people at similar life stages to work together to source, share the cost of, and maintain their accommodation.

Together we will make transitioning to adulthood and autonomy more efficient. Registrations will be on going and will begin from Monday 21st of October 2019.

Δεδομένων των πολύπλοκων αναγκών των νεαρών προσφύγων στην Αθήνα, είναι απαραίτητη μια ολιστική προσέγγιση για τη μετάβαση στην ενηλικίωση και την ένταξη. Το Velos Youth έχει εξασφαλίσει πρόσφατα χρηματοδότηση από το Ευρωπαϊκό Πρόγραμμα για την Ένταξη και τη Μετανάστευση (EPIM), προκειμένου να ενισχύσει εκείνους τους τομείς που συνδέονται στενά με την διαδικασία της ένταξης. Σε συνεργασία με το HumanRights360 και το Κέντρο Ημέρας “Βαβέλ” αναπτύξαμε και θα εκδώσουμε μια νέα πρωτοβουλία με τίτλο «Transitioning to Adulthood: A Path to Autonomy and Self-Reliance». Το προγραμμα αυτό θα ενισχύσει το έργο του Velos Youth, υποστηρίζοντας τους νέους να σχεδιάσουν εκ νέου τη ζωή τους. Το συγκεκριμένο πρόγραμμα, θα προσπαθήσει να καλύψει τα τρία κύρια κενά που επισημάνθηκαν από τα δύο χρόνια συνεργασίας με αυτή την ηλικιακή ομάδα στην Αθήνα: δραστηριότητες κοινωνικής ένταξης, απασχολησιμότητα και πρόσβαση σε συνεπή ψυχολογική περίθαλψη. Πρόκειται να συνεργαστούμε με το HumanRights360 για να αναπαράγουμε και να προσαρμόσουμε το πρόσφατα δοκιμασμένο πρόγραμμα απασχολησιμότητάς τους, όπως και με το Κέντρο Ημέρας “Βαβέλ” να παρέχει μακροχρόνια ψυχολογική φροντίδα. Οι τρεις συνεργαζόμενοι φορείς, θα αναπτύξουν από κοινού μια νέα στρατηγική υπεράσπισης προσαρμοσμένη στις προκλήσεις που αντιμετωπίζουν αυτοί οι νέοι.

Πιο συγκεκριμένα, θα υποστηρίξουμε τους νέους στο καινούργιο περιβάλλον που ζουν παρέχοντας ή υποστηρίζοντας την πρόσβαση σε:

  • Ασφαλής χώρος: Οι συμμετέχοντες έχουν πρόσβαση στο Velos Youth, έναν ασφαλή χώρο, όπου μπορούν να παίρνουν μέρος σε καθημερινές δραστηριότητες, να έχουν πρόσβαση σε βασικές υπηρεσίες, συναισθηματική υποστήριξη και καθοδήγηση από μια ομάδα επαγγελματιών.
  • Διαχείριση περίπτωσης: Οι κοινωνικοί λειτουργοί του Velos Youth πραγματοποιούν ατομικές συνεδρίες και συναντώνται με τους νέους προκειμένου να εντοπίσουν τις άμεσες ανάγκες τους, μέσα από μια βασική διαδικασία εγγραφής. Με βάση τις υπάρχουσες ανάγκες, το άτομο συνδέεται με εξειδικευμένες υπηρεσίες (ψυχολογική υποστήριξη, ιατρική περίθαλψη, νομικές συμβουλές, παραπομπή για στέγαση σε περιπτώσεις ασυνόδευτων ανηλίκων). Μέσω της διαδικασίας εγγραφής, οι νέοι τοποθετούνται στο σύστημα διαχείρισης υποθέσεων που παρακολουθεί τις ανάγκες τους, θέτει στόχους και παρακολουθεί τη διαδικασία.
  • Ψυχολογική υποστήριξη: Οι νέοι που χρήζουν ψυχολογικής υποστήριξης θα παραπέμπονται στο Κέντρο Ημέρας “Βαβέλ”. Ο ψυχολόγος θα προβαίνει σε κλινικές εκτιμήσεις, ατομική συμβουλευτική και ψυχοθεραπεία, ενώ αν κρίνεται σκόπιμο και θεραπευτικό, θα οργανώνει και ομάδες ψυχοθεραπείας. Το Κέντρο Ημέρας “Βαβέλ” θα παράσχει επίσης στήριξη στο περιβάλλον του ατόμου, συμπεριλαμβανομένης της οικογένειάς του, του προσωπικού και των επαγγελματιών που τον υποστηρίζουν, αν αυτό κρίνεται σκόπιμο, προκειμένου να προσφέρει μια πιο ολιστική προσέγγιση.
  • Εκπαίδευση: Καθώς κάθε νέος έχει διαφορετικό μορφωτικό υπόβαθρο και προσδοκίες για το μέλλον του, το Velos Youth ανέπτυξε το εργαλείο LEAP (Σχέδιο Δράσης Μάθησης & Εκπαίδευσης). Το LEAP ενθαρρύνει το διάλογο σε ατομικό επίπεδο προκειμένου οι νέοι να κατανοήσουν τις μαθησιακές και εκπαιδευτικές τους δυνατότητες και ανάγκες, με σκοπό τον σχεδιασμό επόμενων βημάτων και, τελικά, τον προγραμματισμό μικρών και κλιμακωτών στόχων. Η μάθηση υποστηρίζεται από παραπομπές σε δημόσια σχολεία, μαθήματα γλωσσών και εξωσχολικές δραστηριότητες. Το προσωπικό του Velos Youth υποστηρίζει επίσης την μάθηση μέσω της υποστηρικτικής διδασκαλίας.
  • Υποστήριξη για τη δυνατότητα απασχόλησης: Το HumanRights360 θα αναλάβει την υποστήριξη σε σχέση με την απασχολησιμότητα των νεαρών ενηλίκων. Θα υπάρχει Σύμβουλος Απασχολησιμότητας, ο οποίος θα βοηθήσει στην καταγραφή των τυπικών και άτυπων δεξιοτήτων τους, θα προσφέρει καθοδήγηση σχετικά με τις δυνατότητες επαγγελματικής κατάρτισης καθώς και υποστήριξη σε διαδικαστικά θέματα (π.χ. έκδοση ΑΦΜ, έκδοση ΑΜΚΑ, πρακτική εξάσκηση κ.λπ.). Επιπλέον, οι νεαροί ενήλικες θα έχουν τη δυνατότητα να λάβουν καθοδήγηση σχετικά με την πρόσβαση στην αγορά εργασίας, υποστήριξη στη δημιουργία βιογραφικού σημειώματος και, τέλος, θα μπορούν να προετοιμαστούν για πιθανές συνεντεύξεις. Ο Σύμβουλος Απασχολησιμότητας θα προσεγγίσει, επίσης, ιδιωτικές εταιρείες με στόχο τη δημιουργία δικτύου επιχειρήσεων που ενδιαφέρονται να απασχολούν νέους πρόσφυγες.
  • Σύστημα παραπομπών στο πρόγραμμα ένταξης του HumanRights360: Οι νέοι θα μάθουν πώς να αποκτήσουν τα απαραίτητα έγγραφα για την πρόσβαση στην αγορά εργασίας, ενώ θα μάθουν πώς να χρησιμοποιούν αυτές τις υπηρεσίες όσο το δυνατόν πιο ανεξάρτητα.
  • Υποστήριξη για την εξασφάλιση στέγασης: Με την κατάλληλη καθοδήγηση, οι συμμετέχοντες θα υποστηριχθούν για την εξασφάλιση στέγης. Το πρόγραμμα θα υποστηρίξει νέους ανθρώπους που βρίσκονται σε παρόμοιο στάδιο ζωής, σε μια προσπάθεια αυτόνομης και ανεξάρτητης διαβίωσης από μεριάς τους.

Όλοι μαζί θα προσπαθήσουμε να καταστήσουμε τη μετάβαση στην ενηλικίωση και την αυτονομία πιο αποτελεσματική. Οι παραπομπές και οι εγγραφές θα ξεκινήσουν από την Δευτέρα 21 Οκτωβρίου 2019.

Wrapping up the pilot period of ‘Monopati’ – The foundations of learning in Velos

The end of September marked the end of the one year pilot period for Monopati project. Even if the pilot period is ending, the foundations set through the project will be sustained and even further developed in our daily Velos activities.

‘Monopati’, meaning ‘footpath’ in Greek, promoted and facilitated engagement and access to formal and informal education for the young people of Velos Youth.

With the young people at its core, the project led to the development of LEAP (Learning and Education Action Plan), an individual education engagement tool used during both 1 to 1 and group discussions to explore present and future learning aspirations. Additionally, the introduction of Learning Support Sessions bridged educational gaps, built confidence & provided support to the young people.

The pilot period of the Monopati project also enhanced our daily activities through the introduction of learning-specific workshops and the development of collaborations and sign postings to language and vocational organisations. 

With the adoption of the new Lamplight case management system and the EPIM project starting next week, the end of the pilot period only means continuation of our activities and a growth of opportunities for the young people of Velos Youth.

Check out our new Needs List

At Velos our main goal is to be a safe and supportive space for young people in Athens. To help us achieve this, we have created a “Needs List”!

We want our space to always be welcoming, safe and feel like a home away home – simple things like a cup of tea and some fresh fruit can always enhance this.

Fundamental things such as an extra layer of clothing for our young people can also make a big difference in the young peoples daily life, especially with winter coming.

Finally, we hope the young people visiting Velos have multiple opportunities for learning. If you have any old board games or activity materials you no longer want, we are happy to re-home them!

However small or big the donation, we are always grateful for everyones contribution.

Check out our full needs list here