Energy poverty in Greece; Social innovation proposals to tackle the phenomenon

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We would like to inform you of the publication of the study “Energy poverty in Greece; Social innovation proposals to tackle the phenomenon” which was concluded by the Heinrich Βöll Foundation Greece in collaboration with ΙΝΖΕΒ – Institute of Zero Energy Buildings and the social cooperative Wind of Renewal.

In this study, the factors comprising the multi-faceted problem of energy poverty are being introduced as well as its social, economic and environmental consequences. Policies and good examples for dealing with the phenomenon from various European countries are being presented. Also, we are putting forward a series of proposals to tackle the problem in Greece. More specifically, these proposals demonstrate the need for a holistic approach of green, social innovation that, in conjunction with the adequate documentation of the phenomenon, can provide viable solutions, with respect to the current circumstances of Greece. The proposals focus in four main areas: changes in policy, information and education, increase of the energy efficiency of buildings and the use of renewable energy sources.

You may find the executive summary of the study on energy poverty in pdf format, which is available in English here. The whole study is also available in Greek here.

Educational & activities program at WELCOMMON

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The “Welcommon”, a model center for housing and inclusion of refugees, is a cooperation between the Social Cooperative ANEMOS ANANEOSIS /WIND OF RENEWAL and the Athens Development and Destination Management Agency (EATA). The project functions under the framework of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Relocation program for refugees.

WELCOMMON is in the position to offer:

  • Accommodation for 170-200 refugees in 66 rooms and additional facilities for gatherings, tutorials, artistic activities etc.
  • Cover for basic needs: Food, in line with the guests’ nutritional requirements and habits (e.g., age, state of health, religion).
  • Social-Psychosocial supportis provided by 3 social workers and 1 psychologist.
  • Primary health care by a nurse. We are also in the process of setting up a network of Arabic-speaking volunteer doctors of various specializations.

At WELCOMMON we also provide support for formal and non-formal education to the children at three levels: enrollment in the Greek formal education system,  opportunities for non-formal education, training and empowerment of social skills, empowering parents (often single) for taking proper care of their children. A lot of activities are organized and implemented with the contribution of volunteers.  

Refugee children have remained out of an education system for between two and five years. Some of them could never attend school. This, combined with the fact that they are for a long period away from home, leaving in camps and moving from one place -or country- to another, most of the time under difficult conditions, results in a lot of problems. Therefore it is essential for them to return to a formal as well as to a non-formal education and training system as soon as possible.

Through the last five months of the project WELCOMMON, we are happy that we have achieved to structure both a formal and informal educational program. The experience we got so far, proved that the need is focused on the kids, since they consist almost half of the population that we host at the moment. Although we did not limited only to the kids but adults as well.

Given  that so far we were mostly working with cases in the Relocation program, the limited time of their residency, create the need of the program where kids will be kept active but would also be motivated to structure a normal daily life and at the same time to get prepared for the life in the countries will be relocated.

According to the Asylum seekers, we focused from the beginning to register all the kids to the local primary school in order to get into the formal educational system. Furthermore, with regards to the teenagers and adults, considering their skills or past profession, with the help of the social workers, we aim to build a professional profile that will be used in order to promote their capacity for job seeking.

At this point it is worth mentioned that our aim is to provide a number of activities according to people’s preference but at the same time the need, based on innovative methodologies.

As it is presented on the table below, the program is structured in two axis, educational and psychosocial activities.

CHILDREN                       TEENAGERS/ADULTS
Non-formal Educational Program


Arabic “school”:

Runs by one of the residents for kids aged between 6 to 12 years old and includes: Arabic Lessons, Mathematics, English lessons

The school is daily for 3 hours, 6 d/week

In partnership with other organisations, structures and day centres, many of our residents attend Greek, English and German classes





German lessons: Provided by a volunteer

To ages 6+ years old,

3 days/week


Greek lessons: Provided in Welcommon by a volunteer especially to women claimed asylum and just gave birth and are not able to move out of the structure.

2 days/week

Tutoring: Referred to the kids that go to the Greek school as a mean to help them at school

6-10 years old, 2 hours every day

English class: Provided by a volunteer to young kids based on specific topics

(every day conversations)

Use of computer for language lessons: e-learning using computer and YouTube. For the future, Skype sessions for discussions on one topic with volunteers from other countries

Every day for different groups and nationalities

Use of computer for language lessons: e-learning using computer and YouTube. For the future, Skype sessions for discussions on one topic with volunteers from other countries

Every day for different nationalities / languages

Activities schedule


General education/Art/creativity/ Class: Run by educator and volunteers, daily, starting 14.00-21.00 for ages 1-12 years old.

The program includes several activities with a more educational background.

City tours

Visits to museum, parks, galleries every weekend

For adults and children






Music lessons:

For the ages 8-15 years a volunteer provides 1 hour music lessons.

Cooperation with Greek schools (eg Music school of Ilion and other schools) for common projects

Environmental education

Slide show and field visits for environmental education (eg for marine environment, parks, sea turtle, recycling etc)

Theatre: Provided by volunteers to kids aged 8-13 years old

3 days/week

 Board Games: With the instruction of a volunteer, especially teenagers have the chance to play board games and to chat in English with the volunteer about topics they are interested to.


  Football: Provided by a volunteer- professional football trainer to two age groups:

5-12 years old

13+ years old

This activity runs at least 2 days/week at the yard of the local school




Art Class: Run by volunteers, daily, for ages 1-10 years old, girls-boys


Painting Class: Under the supervision of a painter, are provided painting lessons followed by special technics, knowledge of materials etc to teenagers aged 14+ years old.

The class runs 2 days/week






  Photography and video lessons

Under the supervision of a photographer, are provided photography/video lessons to teenagers aged 12+ years old.

The class runs 1 day/week





Movies in Arabic, run by volunteers and refugees for ages 1-10 years old

Nights on 21.00-22.00 and on weekend evenings


Movies in Arabic, run by volunteers and refugees for teenagers and adults on weekend evenings


  • Fairytales followed the Hakawati method
  • Workshops /training for women and asylum seekers in Greece

Bank accounts:

Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal

Pireaus Bank: GR8301720180005018077868253   BIC: PIRBGRAA

Eurobank: GR7202602440000180200876471   BIC: ERBKGRAA

The story of Ahmed, a syrian refugee, 21 years old

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Hello, I am Ahmed, 21 years old, from Syria. I was a college student who studied pharmacology, from a sort of well-to-do family. I dreamed to be a doctor in Syria as my father wished, moreover, to help people with my knowledge, but as you guess, my life changed a lot for last few years.

The changes of my life came to me all by sudden. One day, when I just had a time in my university, some of armed men took me and imprisoned me to the jail without any light. I got threatened for life, beaten up, and had to eat what they provide which I doubt it was for animals. It was only 7days after I lost my father. My mother had to find me even before she consoled herself from losing her husband.

I got released after my family gave them a vail for me. I was so wrapped with fears, and I was afraid of strolling the street, I was afraid of going school, even I couldn’t trust my friends. They got me only for 11 days, but my life changed completely. I lost my home at my home! I couldn’t stroll the street, I couldn’t freely talk to my friends. I felt like I was going to captured and imprisoned any time soon.

“Ahmed, you have to leave home for your future!” My mother urged me to leave Aleppo, Syria, where I was born and raised, a place where I dreamed a dream. I had to prepare to leave putting aside my dream to help people after I become a doctor, and contribute to the development of my beloved country. Packed a small bag for simple journey, borrowed some money from relatives for travel, I left Aleppo one year ago.

However, I didn’t leave Syria from the beginning of my journey. I went to a small town in Syria where my friend was working as a pharmacist. I worked with him for 5 month, but the small town became not safe anymore because of extension of the battlefields. I had to leave again, but I joined an organization working in a refugee camp near by the border. Helping doctors, I dispensed prescriptions. I tried to be optimistic and showed smiles to people during the work, but the horrors of war made it difficult more and more. Eventually, after 6 months in the camp, I decided to leave Syria.

As other refugees experience, it was not comfortable trip to Greece, at all. After leave from Syria, I went to Izmir in Turkey to take the boat to Lesvos island which belongs to Greece. Sometime I crossed the borders risking my life over the broker who never met before. But, you know what, the most difficult situation I suffered from was that ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen.’ It was difficult to just wait result of the application for the refugee status and relocation, which I don’t know when the work is going to be over.

I came to Athens for some help because I was finally out of money. But few days after I arrived in WELCOMMON center in Athens, I heard good news that I will be relocated to Belgium. The latent hopes spurted out from deep inside of me, and I decided to do something good for other people those who should wait little longer than me. I wanted to talk about the hope through the education. So, I initiate children’s school in the center. Now, I am sharing the value of hope with around 15 children, every day, through the math, English, and Arabic language classes.

I will be relocated to Belgium very soon. Now, I even more dream about my future as a doctor. I witnessed and experienced that how much the world need doctors who can take care of poor and week. I want to be a doctor and I want to be ‘there’ where I needed them such as refugee camps. I will try my best to learn the language first, and try to study in Belgium. Actually, what I dream in the innermost recesses of the heart is that I want to establish a volunteers’ community for Syrian people in sometime.

I brought one doll from Syria. A small bear with white gown, wearing brown glasses. Whenever I felt hopeless, I saw the bear and told to myself. “As long as there is hope I don’t fall down.”(the end)