Overcoming COVID-19: Time for solidarity! An unprecedented crisis that requires an unprecedented EU response to restore economic and social progress

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SEE open letter to the President of the European Commission, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Parliament

Brussels, Monday 6 April 2020,

We are facing an unprecedented crisis in Europe and worldwide with dramatic public health, economic and social consequences due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

From Social Economy Europe (SEE), as the voice of the 2.8 million social economy enterprises and organisations in the EU, we are sure that we will collectively overcome the pandemic and its economic and social consequences if we are able to take unprecedent actions guided by the values of cooperationdemocracysolidarity and responsibility, that are at the core the European Union and of the social economy enterprise and organisation models.

From a socio-economic perspective, the  European Union and  Member States must design measures fit for all types of economic and social players, taking into account the diverse legal forms that enterprises and organisations have across the EU, especially those pertaining to the social economy, which is an essential part of our social market economy.

We call on the EU Institutions and Member States to take into account the fundamental role of all social economy enterprises and organisations – cooperatives, mutuals, associations, foundations and social enterprises, among other organisational forms, specific to each Member State – and to support them to overcome this shock that might result in an irreparable loss for Europe.

Social economy enterprises and organisations cannot be excluded from support programmes dedicated to enterprises and specifically to SMEs. More so because the social economy is a key actor in the response to the crisis and is currently at the frontline of the battle against the potentially destructive consequences of the COVID19. The social economy is contributing by:

  • Providing healthcare for all, and producing and distributing pharma products;
  • Providing social services, especially for the most vulnerable in society, such as the elderly, people with disabilities, migrants and refugees, the homeless etc.;
  • Producing and distributing food through agri-food social economy enterprises and social economy retailers;
  • Ensuring financial and business support to the social economy and the real economy through cooperative and ethical banks and financiers, micro-credit institutions and credit unions;
  • Providing insurance cover to their members/policyholders;
  • Being an important industrial player present in strategic sectors, including the production of hospital devices and bio-services;
  • Ensuring the provision of other basic services such as energy, water, tele-communications, cleaning, recycling etc.

Many social economy enterprises and organisations are also doing their part by promoting tele-working and implementing strategies to ensure that jobs and the economic activities are maintained throughout and after the pandemic. We are resilient enterprises and organisations, putting people and the societal objective before profit, and we will do our utmost to overcome this pandemic and be a key contributor for the economic and social recovery that Europe needs.

SEE welcomes the measures taken by the European Institutions and Member States: 

Social Economy Europe welcomes the European Union’s swift reply with the adoption of the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative that will give Member States access to €37 billion of cohesion money to strengthen healthcare systems, and support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, short-term working schemes, and community-based services.

We support the adoption of the State aid Temporary Framework, that enables Member States to use the full flexibility foreseen under State aid rules to “ensure that sufficient liquidity remains available to all types of enterprises and to preserve the continuity of economic activity during and after the COVID-19 outbreak”.

We are please to see the decisive action of the ECB through its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP), the actions of the EIB Group to guarantee access to finance for all SMEs (including most social economy enterprises and organisations), that should be further strengthened, and the activation of the General Escape Clause of the Stability and Growth Pact, giving further flexibility to Member States to deal with this unprecedent crisis.

Social Economy Europe supports the European Commission proposal of a short-time work scheme SURE, that should be accessible to all forms of enterprises and organisations.

Member States are also urgently adopting measures to ensure that enterprises and jobs can survive to the economic slowdown and pave the way to an economic and social reconstruction. We welcome these actions and the efforts of the several Member States that, together with Social Economy representative organisations, have extended and adapted these support measures to all forms of social economy enterprises and organisations. Again, we recall that all Member States should support all forms of enterprises and organisations throughout this crisis, taking into account the vast diversity of enterprise and organisational models that characterises the EU Single Market. Specific attention should be paid to Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISEs) and their workers, especially the disadvantaged individuals; as well as to “atypical workers” in cultural activities and the digital platform sector, to ensure that all workers regardless of their employment status can access to social protection and unemployment benefits.

Not-for-profit healthcare and social services providers who are confronting the public health crisis and taking care of the most vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly, people with disabilities, migrants and other collectives at risk of exclusion; should also be specifically supported by EU Institutions and Member States. Despite the crisis, the allocation of public resources committed for these strategic actors should remain untouched and even increased to address the growing healthcare and social needs.

From a public health and humanitarian perspective, we welcome the joint procurement at EU level of medical and protective equipment, as well as the joint repatriation efforts of European citizens. EU initiatives that should be further strengthened to address the current collective challenges.

The way forward- Unprecedent strategic investments in the social economy are required 

We are convinced that in the coming weeks, additional urgent and extraordinary EU investments will be needed to support Member States, enterprises and organisations, workers and citizens in a situation of social or economic vulnerability throughout this disruptive outbreak. We call on the European Council to send a clear message of unity and solidarity to overcome the public health, economic and social crisis.

We call on EU Member States to contribute on the basis of solidarity to the budget of an ambitious European Economic Reconstruction Plan for this year and possibly for 2021, which has already been proposed by several Member States and welcomed by the European Commission. We should do whatever it takes to protect our economies and social cohesion, ensuring their resilience and paving the way for a sustainable recovery.

We also call on the EU Institutions to approve an ambitious Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 as soon as possible, that takes into account the new socio-economic situation, and serves as powerful leverage for the economic recovery but also  addresses the strategic investments that the EU needs to lead the ecological and digital transitions, especially areas such as the circular economy, and to further strengthen and modernise our welfare systems (that constitute our first defence against the effects of the pandemic).

Unprecedent investments on innovative social economy projects should be mobilised through the ESF+, the InvestEU programme and the ERDF, among other instruments and funds, particularly in strategic areas as healthcare, social innovation, digitalisation, social services, inclusion, circular economy, industry, production of renewable energies, efficiency, skills, education, agri-food, transport etc.

In the coming weeks, the EIB Group should also strengthen its investments in the enterprises and organisations that are more concerned by the economic slowdown, with special attention to Europe’s more affected regions. The access of social economy enterprises and organisation to these guaranteed investments should be ensured, and the cooperation between the EIB Group and social economy financial institutions should be further promoted. SEE is ready to cooperate with EU Institutions, the EIB and the EIF, to ensure that the offer meets the demand and that EU financial instruments are fully accessible for the social economy.

The European Action Plan for the Social Economy, that the Commission has announced for 2021, constitutes a unique opportunity to put social economy at the heart of the efforts to restore sustainable growth and social cohesion in Europe. A clear EU operational conception of what the social economy is and of its specific features and concrete needs will be required. The participation of social economy employers in the European cross-industry social dialogue should be promoted.

The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us that we are confronted with global challenges that we are unable to tackle on an individual basis: collective solutions are required. We will only overcome this crisis in an effective way with more cooperation and solidarity, values that are at the basis of the success of the social economy, and that are more needed than ever to ensure a future of economic and social progress for all Europeans.

Juan Antonio Pedreño,
President of Social Economy Europe 

Visit to the Archelon centre and the Glyfada beach write up! All one “family”, volunteers, refugees, WELCOMMON HOSTEL guests

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On Sunday the 8th of March, the Wind of Renewal /Days of Welcommon family organized a visit to Glyfada at the sea turtle rescue centre «Archelon» and the beach just next to this centre. The group included volunteers, refugees and Welcommon Hostel guests – all one ‘family’.

We left the WELCOMMON Hostel at 1pm and we went to took the metro to Elliniko, then we took a bus to Glyfada to go to the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre. We had a short visit of the centre with some explanations about the turtles, how they are being injured and what the volunteers team is doing to take care of them 🐢. Sea turtles tend to get entangled in fishing gear and such incidents may often result to injuries or drowning. They may also fall victims to collisions with speed boats, especially near nesting beaches. Several cases of deliberately killed animals washed ashore are also reported from different sites.

The nationwide Rescue Network of ARCHELON is activated in cases of reports of injured or sick turtles or strandings of dead animals. The network is set up and supported through the organization of information events in cooperation with Port police authorities, fishermen, volunteers and environmentally active organizations. Injured or sick animals are transferred to the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre in Glyfada, near Athens. About 50 sea turtles are treated annually and when fully recovered, are released back to the sea. First aid Stations for sea turtles are set up in the areas of Rethymnon, Crete and Amvrakikos Gulf.

After the visit, we headed to the beach just next to the centre to do a little clean up, to enjoy the quietness of this place and to chat all together. It was a very pleasant moment 😉

We ended the day by going back to Syntagma square and wishing us a good evening. That was such a good day ! ☀️

FUNday trips are every Sunday 13:00 – 17:00, always meeting at Welcommon Hostel at 13:00. In the past, we’ve visited the Acropolis, had a picnic, and played football in a nearby park. Anybody is welcome, just come along to Welcommon Hostel on Sundays at 13:00.

#ErasmusPlus #volunteering #volunteers #socialinnovation #socialinclusion #empowerment #art #intercultural #withrefugees #EuropeanSolidarityCorps #GreenSocialInnovationESC #SocEnt #GoGreen #hostels #cooperatives #WelcommonHostel #WindofRenewal

Could you support a humanitarian, win-win solution for the refugees and the local communities in Greece, our “remain human-welcome” project ?

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Dear friends

You are certainly informed about the very difficult situation in the Greek hotspots on the Aegean islands of Lesbos, Chios and Samos for the refugees and migrants coming through Turkey mostly from Syria and Afghanistan. It is evident that apart from what European and national institutions should do, there is a task also for private organisations and individuals to do their best in order to guarantee to refugees the right to live in dignity, to participate in the social life and to be able to find a job. In this way, there are win-win solutions for all, the new-comers and local communities.

The social cooperative Wind of Renewal (Άνεμος Ανανέωσης) and the Welcommon Hostel, in Athens, Greece, are willing to contribute to the accommodation, empowerment, social inclusion, job integration for a number of persons in our place. We address this offer, to the most vulnerable persons (families, single / pregnant women, disable persons, victims of trafficking, torture and rape etc) and we are ready to collaborate with NGOs and refugees / migrants communities for the next months, until there is a clear situation. Despite the problems created by coronavirus, there are many people who would like to help also the vulnerable groups in a period of crisis.  But we need support in order to be able to finance:

  • the cost for accommodation, breakfast, social empowerment, job training, non formal education, language lessons and preparation for a job,
  • the hiring of a number of refugees as employees for such a project.

We need donors immediately to be able to support our “remain human-welcome” project. Donations of all sizes are welcome and necessary. You can also support us informing your social networks, friends, universities, through social media, real life social networks and all other communication channels. You can make donations now through our bank accounts:

ANEMOS ANANEOSIS / WIND OF RENEWAL

Cooperative Bank of Karditsa

ΙΒΑΝ GR 7608900100003010003540200

Bank of Karditsa’ s BIC / Swift Code is STKAGRA1

– ANEMOS ANANEOSIS / WIND OF RENEWAL

Piraeus Bank
IBAN: GR83 0172 0180 0050 1807 7868 253

Piraeus’s BIC code is PIRBGRAA

Please send us your details for the invoice and inform us if you are willing to publish your donation at our website for transparency reasons.

  • Donors-institutions able to contribute €5,000 or more will receive an original painting of their choice from our collection of quality artworks provided by local artists who wanted to help us to achieve the social and environmental objectives.
  • Donors – Individuals can pre-book their stay in our WELCOMMON HOSTEL with 30% reduction of the room cost (before taxes) in the next 2 years

We remain at your disposal

Yours sincerely,

Nikos Chrysogelos                                PolinaGkioka                 Apostolos Ioakimidis

Chairman of “Wind of Renewal”      vice-president                 treasure of the board

About Wind of Renewal, WELCOMMON center for refugees and the WELCOMMON HOSTEL

Wind of Renewal social cooperative

  • It was established in 2014 as a center for the promotion of social economy and green innovation, intercultural dialogue, climate action and energy transition.
  • In September 2016 the innovative center for refugees, WELCOMMON (Welcome in common), was established in a seven floor old hospital with the support of UN and the Athens regionin order to host in dignity more than 600 vulnerable refugees. It operated as such until February 2018.
  • In this context we have employed and partially hosted more than 300 volunteers from all over the world for supporting non formal education, socializing, empowerment, art therapy, social inclusion and language / intercultural lessons for refugees, migrants and locals (staying in our premises and outside). We also organized the “Days of WELCOMMON”, to offer intercultural courses with the volunteers.
  • We are very proud that our social cooperative enterprise ANEMOS ANANEOSIS / WIND OF RENEWAL has received 5 European-level distinctions for our contribution to the social economy, social green innovation and intercultural dialogue

Please find out more about:
www.facebook.com/daysofwelcommon
https://anemosananeosis.gr/en/vol765/
https://anemosananeosis.gr/en/5prizes/ 

The WELCOMMON HOSTEL

  • After the interruption of the funding for housing of refugees (9/2016-2/2018), WoR opened in June 2018, the WELCOMMON HOSTEL, without any grant, capital or support. The aim was to continue the work on social and ecological solutions by providing training and employment for refugees and unemployed young Greeks. At the same time, we improved our tourism offer by providing opportunities for guests to stay and collaborate with us. We use five stores of our seven-floor building in Exarcheia, Athens, to welcome visitors. The remaining two stories are used for our social and ecological projects. Despite the lack of financial resources we were able to continue, not without difficulties, our innovative, volunteer-led program of social inclusion and integration activities (music, art, film, family picnics, cooking workshops, co-learning opportunities and sports) for refugees and
  • In 2020, we :

– Provide free language classes/intercultural courses for refugees and local Greeks

– Offer a rich program of inclusive cultural activities

– Support integration through music, art, comedy and film events

– Raise awareness of our next generation to tackle the climate crisis by training 200 teachers from 73 schools in Athens to harness the enthusiasm of over 3,000 students, in the frame of EUKI Climate Schools Be.Ath

– Support 11 young Greeks to gain professional qualifications in energy reduction and transition-creating social and ecological change holistically, in the frame of EUKI YESclima

– Are ready to engage and support any other  project in line with our objective for  social inclusion and climate action – from family picnics to seminars on the green economy and everything in between

Please find out more about the Hostel in:

– Welcommon Hostel: www.welcommonhostel.gr

– Welcommon Hostel in facebook: www.facebook.com/welcommonhostel

– Welcommon Hostel in instagram: www.instagram.com/welcommonhostel
– Our building and sustainable tourism: www.welcommonhostel.gr/rooms-list

More about us:

Welcommon, a model housing and social inclusion centre for refugees (9/2016-2/2018) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMBwqRxDotk&feature=youtu.be

What the refugees themselves and others told about the role of WELCOMMON

Documentary  “WorkingWithRefugeeCommunities in Greece”, by the “In place ofWar” (IPOW) in cooperationwith Anna LindhFoundation

Bibiche, fromKongo, “Whatyoureallyknowaboutthe refugees

Beshir, fromSyria, “Whatyoureallyknowaboutthe refugees

Ghassan, from Syria, “Whatyoureallyknowaboutthe refugees

We are more thanpapers

– An article published by the e-newsletter «Cooperative.news»: «Taking steps to meet the long-term needs of refugees»

 –Our history: www.welcommonhostel.gr/slider/you-can-feel-the-history-of-welcommon

– Social change in our community: www.welcommonhostel.gr/social

Wind of Renewal: www.anemosananeosis.gr, www.anemosananeosis.gr/en/about-us-en/ ,
Six years of innovation: https://anemosananeosis.gr/en/sgi5667-2/
social media: www.facebook.com/socialcooperatives