“WELCOMMON” Labour Integration of refugees in Greece: a Cooperative Hostel to Spread Solidarity

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“Welcommon” stands for “Welcome in common”. This is the name that four well-established organisations, the social cooperative Wind of Renewal, the Greek Forum of Refugees, the Greek Forum of Migrants and ANASA Cultural Centre, have chosen for a project seeking to offer much more than emergency accommodation. Social inclusion, empowerment and refugee integration are key aims of the initiative.

María Ruiz Nievas

The main objective is to provide quality housing for up to 120-150 asylum seekers for six-month periods or longer. “The personnel of the Hostel will be both migrants/refugees and Greek nationals. That means that through hosting we try to create job opportunities,” explains Nikos Chrysogelos, President of Wind of Renewal and one of the founders of the project. Refugees will also be put in contact with local initiatives looking for workers as technicians, nurses or doctors, artists and social entrepreneurs.

Refugees will receive food, clothing and health care to cover their basic needs, as well as information and various training opportunities, such as language instruction, to develop their abilities and skills.

Active participation of asylum seekers

Although Greek citizens have expressed solidarity to refugees and there are a lot of initiatives to provide food, clothes and first aid equipment, there is a lack of organized policy and good practices for social inclusion, empowerment and integration for those refugees willing to stay in Greece or who at least want to stay longer.

“We are starting by providing housing in apartments, but there is no experience of integrating and developing the entrepreneurship of refugees and migrants in Greece, especially in a cooperative way,” claims Nikos Chrysogelos.


Last December, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras committed to housing 50,000 refugees by the end of 2016 and this year Greece has already received 61,746 people who arrived by sea, according to UNHCR. “Welcommon” could not be happening at a better time.

“We would like to be operational by June,” said Chrysogelos, who recognizes that the project’s success is dependent upon funding. Foundations in Greece, private donors and a crowd funding campaign are the most immediate options. “We have already developed good cooperation with the Municipality of Athens and we hope to do the same with the regional authorities in Attica. We are looking for a (closed) hotel or clinic (there are some in Athens, because of the crisis), which would also be suitable for hosting activities related to social entrepreneurship.”

Chrysogelos does not close the door, however, on support from the EU’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), but admits that “it takes time and it is something for the future”.

If you want to know more about our project or you would like to support it, please contact: windofrenewal@gmail.com

The four organisations:


Published by European Confederation CECOP – CICOPA Europe here

Social Entrepreneurship Forum 2015

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The 2nd Social Entrepreneurship Forum took place on 9-10 November at the Agricultural University of Athens (Find the program and available material here). Numerous participants – social enterprises, stakeholders and support organisations for social enterprises and social economy – addressed matters relating to cooperation, networking and self-organization of the social enterprise community. A number of critical issues emerged and was discussed thoroughly; the need for networking and cooperation between social enterprises and support organizations, the demand for commonly accepted practices as well as structures for the development of the ecosystem in general and in particular for stakeholders’ education, the support of efforts in their infancy, the development of appropriate financial and funding tools. Above all, the protection of the community from isolated phenomena that can compromise the whole.

The event provided a platform for the development of the necessary openness and trust, to stimulate dialogue on shared values and practices, opportunities and concerns, dissemination of good practices, learning from one another, both in Greece and elsewhere in Europe.

The Social Entrepreneurship Forum 2015 reached a Declaration agreed on a Framework of Principles and Values, which will form the basis of a Code of Conduct which we intend to co-shape by March 2016 at the latest. It, also, includes the commitment to create a common on-line platform based on the principles of the Commons (Commons – Creative Commons) that will provide accurate and timely information about social enterprises and social economy and innovative tools for the communication of community and coordination of networking and empowerment activities at local, regional, national and EU level as well as for concerted presence in social media.

It is a common desire for the Social Entrepreneurship Forum not only to develop in an annual institution for dialogue, information and networking but also to become in the future the capstone of coordinated and well organized thematic or regional meetings that will bring experience, recommendations, and joint initiatives to the Forum.

Available material of the Forum you can find in the Forum’s website www.seforum.gr

Green regional development

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In the context of greening regional development social cooperative “Anemos Ananeosis” and Heinrich Böll Stiftung Greece organize a series of activities with the aim to strengthen the capacities of social, professional and regional stakeholders, as well as of local authorities for the implementation of plans of ecological and social innovation and the full utilization of national and European funding opportunities. Networking and collaboration among the actors for such plans’ development and implementation is a key element in the planned actions, the majority of which is to be realized in strong collaboration with the Greek Green Cities Network.

Among planned activities is a series of capacity building seminars where good practices and models on green economic activities from several areas and countries will be presented and the road for their transfer and adaptation to the regional and local context will be discussed. In addition funding opportunities provided by the “Partnership Agreement/National Strategic Reference Network” 2014-2020, on issues such as the following will be recorded and presented to local authorities representatives, staff, members of the local civil society, social entrepreneurs, citizens tailored to their needs and visions for their city’s future.

  • Urban regeneration towards ecological and social direction
  • Green jobs
  • Energy saving and transition to 100% renewable energy
  • Promotion of energy cooperatives in schools
  • Sustainable forest management and fire prevention
  • Sustainable transport plans
  • New tourism models which combine sustainable economic activity with environmental protection and culture
  • Low energy consumption or zero-emission ships
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Sustainable public procurements

The first seminar took place in March in Kozani, the city in presidency of the Greek Green Cities Network. The second seminar followed in the city of Chania, Crete in May, the third one in Agios Dimitrios, Attica on 23 and the last one in Drama in November.