WELCOMMON HOSTEL: Sustainable tourism, accessibility, inclusiveness, job integration, social economy and innovation

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The social economy, in its various forms, has a historical track-record of supporting the full integration of people with special needs across all aspects of life, from education, training, housing, job opportunities to access to information, leisure, sport, cultural activities, products and services. Thanks to the social economy’s defining values and characteristics – favouring the social objective over profit, the centrality of the person, acting in the interest of its members and users and/or the general interest, having democratic 7 governance, reinvesting its profit into the enterprise – it is best placed to offer equal opportunities for socially excluded individuals, including people with disabilities, migrants, refugees, long term unemployed focusing on skills, support and full participation. Many actors of the social economy, such as cooperatives, social enterprises, work integration social enterprises (WISEs) and associations, include marginalized, vulnerable and disable people in their daily operation and governance structures, allowing for their participation also in the decision-making of the enterprise or organisation. This idea embodies the approach of the social economy in relation to the inclusion of marginalized and often vulnerable individuals: instaed of exclusion or relief approach, participation through empowerment. Empowerment is the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights. The social economy cultivates this by acting not only for vulnerable people but also, and most importantly, with them.

Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal

Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal was founded as a social cooperative enterprise in Athens in 2014 by a number of environmental and socially active citizens. Born out of a desire to promote social and green innovation and economy, sustainable tourism, climate protection, energy transition, environmental awareness, intercultural dialogue, welcome refugees – providing safe accommodation and social inclusion, . We wanted to implement – not only to propose – innovative solutions for the social and environmental problems of Greece (and Europe). WELCOMMON HOSTEL is an innovative and inclusive hostel open to all the different kind of travelers created and run by our cooperative.

What does accessibility mean for our organization

For Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal accessibility means equal access not only to a building or site but also to social, political, and economic life, it means not only physical access but also access to the same tools, services, organizations and facilities for all, disabled or/and other vulnerable people and non-disabled people

Our organization’s activities cover various areas of activity, but in this article we narrow the information presented below to activities provided in the field of sustainable tourism sector services, which are profiled due to the aspect of accessibility and / or take into account the employment of people with disabilities.

Our Welcommon Hostel is an innovative and inclusive hostel for sustainable tourism in Athens, Attica region, Greece. It is a seven-floor facility building in the center of Athens that offers accommodation for people of all ages and places, a hostel for sustainable tourism, a proposal for accommodation of social, cultural and environmental active groups and persons during their stay in Athens. The WELCOMMON HOSTEL is something more than just a nice hostel with social impact. It is also a place for social gathering and experimentation, a center for innovation and art, as well as a centre for social and green innovation and economy, for social and job integration for Greek locals, migrants and refugees.

Our guests are all different travelers (tourists, volunteers, Erasmus students, nomads-workers, newcomers, refugees. migrants). Our vision is to bring close people from all over the world without discrimination, to enable them to communicate, to be entertained and to explore the creative side of Athens. Our guests have the opportunity to participate directly and indirectly in green, social, humanitarian and inclusive – intercultural projects, events and activities. They can also contribute with their ideas and experience. WELCOMMON Hostel means welcome in common – together. We communicate about our offers at EU and global level as our guests are 95% people from EU and the rest of the world.

We try to stay innovative and adapt to new requirements, despite the crisis (financial, health, energy, climate, social)

The vision for the Welcommon Hostel is to be a sustainable solution to host all the travelers without discrimination based on inclusiveness and participation. Welcommon Hostel means welcome in common, together. We are flexible and be ready to stay innovative and adapt to new situations. WELCOMMON HOSTEL was named as the most EXTRAORDINARY Hostel Hero announced by HOSCARS awards 2021, organized by the international network HOSTEL WORLD. Why; As of June 2020, even the sustainable tourism collapsed and at the same time thousands of recognized refugees and asylum seekers in Greece were left homeless in the midst of a global pandemic, we decided to host a number of refugees, the most vulnerable between them, such as survivors of sexual violence, torture and ill treatment, the elderly, people with chronic diseases, pregnant and mothers with new borne babies. At the same time although the impact of COVID-19 and the restrictions measures have a serious impact on us (reducing -80% of our income, almost zero tourists, restriction of in person activities, need for increased and costly health protection measures etc), we continued on offering social empowerment and non-formal education courses with the participation of refugees and volunteers.

We try to adapt our offer, the hostel/the building as such and our activities and services,  accessible to all people (whether they have a disability or not) without discrimination. The hostel is accessible to disable persons. There is also a special designed room for 3-4 disable persons. The elevators and the rooms for activities as well as our bar and places for intercultural events are all accessible. Our guests are all kinds of travelers, including disable persons from all over Europe. We offer interactive, inclusive, intercultural, non formal education and courses (language lessons, art, environmental and climate awareness, music) and green and social economy workshops open for all: volunteers, refugees, migrants, travelers, nomads workers, Erasmus, locals with the support of more than 370 volunteers from all over the world.

We are proud we have hosted between others many individuals and groups of disabled persons as well as activities for disabled persons (for example a group of 50 participants, for an international Erasmus Project, from 19/10-26/10/2019, hosted by IKKAIDO,  an innovative European disability sports organisation) and of course many disable individuals as tourists, refugees and participants / students in our intercultural courses (language, painting, photography, music lessons).

If you’ve ever come into Welcommon you probably felt that it is a special place, a place where you can meet people, learn from them… it is a community. Special place, people, values.

Our services are designed to be accessible to everyone. Our vison is to offer appropriate accommodation and room for interaction and participation, but not only this. Our vision is to bring close people from all over the world, to enable them to communicate, to be entertained, to offer and gain knowledge and experience, and to explore the creative side of Athens. Everyone can contribute with his/her own ideas and experience.

Anemos Ananeosis/Wind of Renewal has a strong commitment to building a better world through social and green innovation and the cooperative business model.  We try to improve the working environment as we have always a diverse workforce (unemployed persons, refugees, long-unemployed persons, young persons without job-experience) and many volunteers with different background. This diverse workforce as well our model of sustainable tourism is an added value for our Hostel; there are many clients they decide to book a room or organise an event in our hostel bacause of this social responsible model.

We have discussed with an organization working for the enhance of disabled persons to host a number of employees with disabilities as our hostel and our workplace is friendly to disabled persons, but COVID-19 postponed the plan. Our main task is to train our employees with or without disabilites on digital and social and green skills, for positions like receptionists, communication, environmental management, communication with clients, procurements, barista, cook and serve local and ethnic dishes, energy efficiency, installation of solar systems etc.*

The training on job is undertaken by more experienced staff of Anemos Ananeosis or collaborators of the cooperative. We host also internships and practitioners, as well as European Young Entrepreneurs. As a social cooperative enterprise we have experienced exclusion and unfair practices related to covid-19 support measures by the national and regional authorities. Therefore, we try always to be flexible, innovative and responsible in our plans and practices,

The most expensive investment is regarding training of our personnel that must combine professional with social and environmental skills, capacities and knowledge. During COVID-19 the most expensive investment was not firing the employees, keep the workforce, as the income from tourism was almost zero.

We collaborate with networks and NGOs working for the rights of people with disabilities, with organizations like Hidden Athens (a town guide aimed at tourists who want to witness the special parts of Athens and learn beforehand whether a place has something special to offer, whether it is accessible to people with disabilities etc https://www.hiddenathens.com/?page_id=7800) as well as with European social networks.

COVID-19 has postponed our networking with accessible tourism clusters, but we are very interesting in participating in such clusters in the near future and collaborate with social investors and social funds as well as with green funds, solar energy companies etc

We have a close cooperation with many universities, social enterprises, research centers and civil society’s organizations and networks.

Anemos Ananeosis participates in many events, seminars. workshops and projects concerning disable persons, and is a partner of the Erasmus project “SESYCARE- Social Entrepreneurship Skills for Young CAREgivers of people with chronic Illness”.

The main idea for the creation of the Welcommon Hostel was that the income from sustainable tourism will finance both the operation of the hostel and our social / ecological projects. We operate ‘for good and not-for-profit’ which means our clients’ stay should be cheaper while contributing to something amazing like social empowerment, social inclusion, green transition, music, cooking and language lessons, art-therapy, climate projects. Any surplus of funds will be reinvested in affordable hosteling, new jobs and social / green projects, not shareholders.

Of course during COVID-19 and as a result of collapse of traveling, our financial situation was hard. Enterprises of social economy are facing many obstacles and discrimination concerning the governmental measures for support during the COVID-19 and recovery from the crisis. Energy crisis, the rising of the prices for goods and services as well as the impact of the war in Ukraine are additional problems for activities like ours which need stability and long term planning.

We don’t received any grant or public support for the accommodation of vulnerable homeless refugees during the pandemic of COVID-19. Some individuals and small NGOs contributed a bit to the costs for the accommodation of a vulnerable person or a family.

We have started a crowdfunding campaign. People they want to support our social work can find more here: https://welcommonhostel.gr/slider/helpus2020/

The key success factors for our business

We have a vision, a mission and an innovative social/green business plan. And there are many people ready to share with us their commitment for a better and fairer world. Our philosophy is that we want to be part of the social change we want to see happen. Anemos Ananeosis/Wind of Renewal has a strong commitment to building a better world through social and green innovation and the cooperative business model. We want to influence the direction of our society to become more sustainable and ecologically and socially fair. And of course we are open for all the travelers and people, we are inclusive and we want to “teach” and “learn”. Our activity is based on social and green values: special place, people, value (the moto of LE MAT Europe network of social enterprises for sustainable tourism). We are very happy to participate in a network of many hostels and other accommodations with social aims and goals, values and social/green activities. We already know some and we try to be in contact with them..

What is the estimated average annual turnover of the business activity (in Euro)

The estimated annual turnover for our financial sustainability is about 500.000 euro. As the hostel is a new one (we opened it in July 2018) and we have spent an amount of more than 400.000 euro for the renovation of the building and for infrastructure (based on a re-use and energy efficiency /climate friendly  and zero waste approach), we were not able to succeed in financial sustainability before COVID-19. Our business plan was to reach financial sustainability in 2,5 years, that means by the end of 2020. We were on a very good path achieving our goal, but COVID-19 changed everything. Now we are looking for social and green investors to participate in our project.

Our social model, our values and our innovative approach are the strengths of our commercial communication. On 26th of April 2021, our Welcommon Hostel was recognized as the “most EXTRAORDINARY Hostel Hero” and one of the 5 “Extraordinary Sustainable Hostels”  by leading Online Travel Agent (OTA) focused on the hostel market, Hostelworld.

Representing Greece, Welcommon Hostel was crowned most EXTRAORDINARY Hostel Hero by a panel of expert travel judges and more than 20,000 votes by hostel travelers all around the world. Since 2016, we have received 11 international and european awards, prizes, distinctions, special recognitions. Please see here: https://anemosananeosis.gr/en/11-awards_wor/

We are indeed asked many times and we can see the possibilities of replicating the solutions developed by our organization in cooperation with entities in other countries. With pleasure.

If you would like to learn more about us and support our project, please visit:

Welcommon Hostel: www.welcommonhostel.gr

Wind of Renewal: www.anemosananeosis.gr/





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

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


Wind of Renewal and Welcommon Hostel: Youth active for social, cultural and climate activities

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Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal (Άνεμος Ανανέωσης) – our social enterprise, and Welcommon Hostel – our innovative hostel with social and ecological impacts – deliver real social and ecological impact in #Athens, Greece. We believe in being a part of the change we want to see in the world – and we want the young persons to be a part of it, too.

Wind of Renewal was founded as a social cooperative in Athens in 2014. Born out of a desire to help in social and green transition of Greece, promote social and green innovation and economy, welcome refugees –  providing safe accommodation and social inclusion – we remain committed to changing the world in collaboration with dedicated partners.

The WELCOMMON HOSTEL – run by the Wind of Renewal – is a hostel with social, cultural and green impact, a beacon of sustainable tourism in the heart of Athens but also a community centre for refugees, migrants, volunteers, travelers/tourists and local Greeks to come together, learn essential life and language skills and be empowered; and an inspirer and educator for climate change action, energy transition and environmental awareness.

In everything we do, we work in collaboration with anybody who wants to be part of the change they want to see in the world. This includes

  • the volunteers delivering our language classes, cultural activities and integration events;
  • the refugees and local Greeks who participate in them;
  • our guests in Welcommon Hostel;
  • the students and teachers engaged in our climate education and action projects.

As a social cooperative, Wind of Renewal will not waste anybody’s talent, idea or enthusiasm. We will empower people to act, learn from them, and collaborate to change the world together.

Welcommon Hostel is a vibrant sustainable tourism destination in the heart of Athens. Our ambition is to fund our work to change the world sustainably from the income of the hostel, however we are not in this position yet. The aim of this project is to promote sustainable tourism, social and green innovation, social and circular economy, intercultural dialogue and climate/environment protection as well as social inclusion and cooperation with the local community. 

The Welcommon Hostel is an integrative hostel with social impact and at the same time a centre for social empowerment and innovation, a place for social, green and cultural events, activities, seminars and courses. Several events, projects, seminars and workshops are offered for and together with refugees, locals and travelers. We use five storeys of our seven-storey building in Exarcheia, Athens, to welcome visitors. The remaining two storeys are used for our programme of language classes, social inclusion and climate education and action.

We maximize our impact in our local community by providing training and employment for refugees and unemployed local Greeks. At the same time, we maximize our tourism offer by providing opportunities for guests to collaborate and change the world with us – and just by staying with us they are already contributing to our mission to be a part of the change we want to see in the world.

Welcommon Hostel is a member of Le Mat Europe, a pan-European network of social entrepreneurs including their local communities in sustainable tourism. We participate in the global travel agent network of Hostel World. We are recognised by the Greek Youth Hostels Association and are members of Hostelling International – national and international bodies recognising good standards for sustainable tourism alongside commitment to social and environmental change.

Wind of Renewal is also a founding member of the Greek Forum of Social Entrepreneurship, a member of

  • REVES (European Network of Cities & Regions for the Social Economy),
  • Anna Lindh Foundation (a Euro-Med network for the promotion of intercultural dialogue)
  • REScoop.Eu (the European Federation of renewable energy cooperatives)
  • DIESIS Network


Our project has impact at three levels: 

  1. a) on migrants/refugees: familiarisation with new communities; 
  2. b) on communities: better knowledge and active involvement in positive actions which reduce the effect of misleading representations of migrations; 
  3. c) on policies: smart action involving different stakeholders which increase the capacity of policies to deal with changing realities.

The pursuit of social integration also includes activities in common with local groups, schools, youth organizations on improving the capacity of local communities to implement a soft approach to social orientation, guiding newly arrived persons into a better knowledge and understanding of societal background, and improving empathic relationships among groups and persons. 

Learning from each other is an important and interesting part of the green and social project. As many people with different knowledge and skills come together, we try to benefit from each other. This happens through workshops we are giving to each other and in our daily work and interactions. Young participants, volunteers, tourists, teen refugees participate in our social and environmental activities.

Welcommon Hostel, an extraordinary inclusive and sustainable hostel, centre for social and green innovation, socializing, intercultural dialogue

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Welcommon Hostel is an innovative hostel with strong social and green impact. It is located  in the center of Athens, at the heart of youth, social and cultural activities, easy to reach with public transportation, 400 meters from Omonoia Square and 900 meters from Syntagma Square, close to the archaeological museum, 3 minutes on foot from the public transport systems’ hubs (Omonoia and Kaniggos sq), in a  distance of 10 minutes on foot from Acropolis, Museum of Acropolis, Syntagma sq, the Parliament, Monastiraki flea market, Plaka neighborhood and Athens downtown, at the borders of the Exarchia neighborhood with many youth cafes and cultural activities.

It is the first hostel in Athens run by a Social Cooperative, Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal established in 2014 for the promotion of social and green economy and innovation, intercultural dialogue, climate action, green transition, sustainable tourism. Two of our flagship projects are, the Welcommon center for housing and empowerment of refugees (9/2016-2/2018) and a follow up, the Welcommon Hostel, from June 2018 until today.

Welcommon Hostel offers accommodation to people of all ages and all the travellers without discrimination. It is a hostel for sustainable tourism, an option for accommodation of social, cultural and environmental active persons and groups during their stay in Athens, as well as a centre for the promotion of intercultural dialogue, social and green innovation, social empowerment and inclusion, job integration of refugees.

Welcommon Hostel opened at the end of June 2018, after a general renovation of the building based on a re-use and green approach aimed at turning it into a youthful, comfortable and creative hostel.

We have received 11 international and European awards and distinguishes for our social and green impact, like:

  • SOSCARs 2021 EXTRAORDINARY Hostel Hero 2021  / 1st place at the global level,  for our social work during COVID-19 (by the Hostel World network)
  • CEB 2021 award, shortlisted in the 5 best social inclusion projects in Europe (by the Development Bank of the Council of Europe),
  • European Citizen’s Prize 2018 for our contribution in the promotion of the European values (by the European Parliament),
  • SOSCARs 2021 EXTRAORDINARY SUSTAINABLE Hostel 2021, shortlisted in the 5 best sustainable hostels at the global level (by the Hostel World network)
  • voted as the best social project in Greece for 2019-2021 in the framework of the social competition organized by the Greek network of the Euro Med “Anna Lindh Foundation”

Welcommon Hostel is part of the LE MAT Network for the promotion of sustainable tourism: special people, places, values. Anemos Ananeosis is a member of the Anna Lindh Foundation for the promotion of the intercultural dialogue, RESCoop.eu (the federation of the European energy cooperatives) as well as of the REVES network of authorities and social enterprises for the promotion of social economy and DIESIS network, the ecosystem of social economy. We have close collaboration with european netoworks like Social EConomy Europe, Rre-use etc.

Welcommon Hostel is also a member of the Hostel World’s network as well as of Greek Youth Hostels Association and Hostelling International, the global networks of hostels that enable travelers to meet people of different cultures, backgrounds and experiences, and provide a rich resource for learning and for building a better, more peaceful world.

Social activities / social impact:

Welcommon Hostel always hosts volunteers from various European – and not only – countries. Since 2016 we have hosted more than 400 volunteers from all over the world, for 2-12 months. Our volunteers run on a daily basis our social activities, such as: language lessons for adults and teenagers, art classes, social events, walking tours etc. Since 2018, and especially during COVID-19 we have hosted in Welcommon Hostel, in safety and dignity – although without a grant or funding project – more than 600 vulnerable, homeless refugees, while more than 8000 refugees, volunteers, tourists, students, Erasmus participated in our inclusive, intercultural and interactive courses, events, activities. We have close collaboration with human rights, environmental and social organizations, networks as well as with communities of refugees and migrants.

Eco-Sustainability / Green hostel

Gradually we turn the Welcommon Hostel into a demonstration building for sustainability, energy efficiency

  • we changed all the 2400 lighting to LED – energyefficient systems,
  • we have installed 20 solar panels for heating the water used by our clients,
  • we managed to reduce the consumption of energy, electricity, oil, and CO2 emissions up to 50-60%
  • We are looking to turn the hostel into an almost zero emissions building, in the future, by using hybrid solar panels for heating / cooling of the building and producing electricity for the hostel’ s needs.

We welcome any networking with organisations and institutions, even social investors willing to support and participate in our project

If you know organisations and institutions willing to collaborate with us and even support our efforts, please give us a contact. Although we are working for the social good and green transition, we are excluded from the COVID-19 measures in Greece (as we are not for-a-profit organisation and there is also discrimination against social cooperatives in almost all the financial measures by the government and the regional authorities, although much of the money if EU). As we want to be independent related to housing and empowerment of refugees but also to promoting green and climate action and projects, we created the Welcommon Hostel in order to finance our projects. COVID-19 and the impact on tourism and societies raised obstacles in our effort to self-financing our projects and social / green work. We survived but we need you help.

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