New centre inaugurated in Athens for those affected by economic crisis

Around 37 000 people will receive help from the new Solidarity Centre in Athens for people affected by the economic crisis. The centre was officially inaugurated today, and is financed by Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants.

Aten: Åpning av senter for kriserammede

Norway's ambassador to Greece, Sjur Larsen (left), participated at the inauguration of the new centre. Photo: Christian G. Halvorsen, MFA

The economic crisis in Greece has hit many people very hard. According to the EU's statistical office Eurostat, every third person in the country of 10.7 million is at risk of poverty or social exclusion.

Through the EEA and Norway Grants, around EUR 4.3 million has been allocated to emergency measures to help the poor and homeless in Athens.

Free medical care and medicines, food vouchers, assistance when applying for jobs, and legal aid are some of the services that are offered by the new Solidarity Centre, located close to the central station in the Greek capital.

It is clear that the needs are great from the number of people visiting the centre, which has already been open for a while, although it was not officially inaugurated until today. In the first two months after the doors opened, around 4000 people have received free health care and medicines. Food vouchers have been given to 3500 families, and the helpline has answered more than 4700 calls.

     See video: Meet the visitors of the centre

The Solidarity Centre is run by the Municipality of Athens and the Open Society Foundations and their partners.

'The social welfare problems in Greece are huge. This centre shows how cooperation between the public sector and NGOs can make a difference to people's lives. Our aim is that this project can serve as a model for other, similar projects,' said Minister of EEA and EU Affairs Vidar Helgesen.

Greece will receive a total of EUR 63.4 million through the EEA and Norway Grants during the current period. The funding provided via the EEA and Norway Grants is Norway's contribution to reducing social and economic disparities between countries in Europe. The Grants are also intended to strengthen contact and cooperation between Norway and the 16 beneficiary countries

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