Workshop with the Accommodation and Services Scheme for Asylum Seekers of ADDMA (Athens Development & Destination Management Agency – City of Athens)
We visited this interesting project that helps asylum seekers in Athens. It was set up in 2015 to support accommodation and integration needs. The team includes social workers, psychologists & social scientists.
It is a very good example of a mediation service which helps refugees to more fully integrate into their new community. They have in-depth understanding of the needs of the population with whom they work.
The team explained that sometimes there can be difficulty with refugees accessing local services. It is not enough to just give details of schools and health services and expect every family to engage right away. There can be language, cultural, social and psychological barriers. Their stakeholders can be very disoriented after what has happened to them leading to feelings of insecurity. The team can help people understand their situation and begin to develop independence skills again.
For example here is a psychological barrier to integration. Families may have a plan to move on to another destination and they see Greece as a transition stage so they do not want to invest in local services, such as education. The team explained that even when a family has been told they will be staying in Athens, this was not their original plan and they are still holding on to moving. Also, this population can have mental health needs, as result of experiencing trauma. They describe going to houses and the curtains are shut, the family are not able to engage in their new community. Therefore a key role of the project is to help families see they have a new opportunity, they can exist again in a new place, they can ‘open the curtains’ to see their new life.
Key points from the visit:
* Staff who work with this population benefit from training which is experiential as well as knowledge based
* Mediation is key in helping families to access services
* There are ideas for good practice when creating an inclusive ethos in schools – coming up in the next blog!