Thank you @HostelWorld for shining a light on WELCOMMON HOSTEL as one of the “Hostel Heroes” (2/10/2020)
We are thrilled to continue shining a light on some of the amazing initiatives hostels are putting in place, whether it’s in community outreach or sustainability or something completely different. In the midst of a crisis, we are seeing hostels supporting the community coming together… building a better world!
In this week’s Hostel Hero story, we wanted to introduce Welcommon Hostel; located in Athens, Greece. The hostel has become a beacon for sustainable tourism in the heart of Athens as well as a community centre for social inclusion of refugees and local Greeks where they come together to learn essential life and language skills and empowerment. They are also an inspirer and educator for climate change action, energy transition and social economy.
This is their story:
We ran the innovative Welcommon centre for refugees for housing and social integration of 600 vulnerable refugees for 18 months (9/2016-2/2018). The project was funded by UNHCR and through the Municipality of Athens. Although this was an innovative approach to the refugee issue for the whole EU, the funding stopped abruptly, and we did not have the time to find any other funding resources.
As a result, we decided to continue with our social activities for the refugees in another context: A social youth hostel, something that was missing from our city. Our aim was not to create another hostel in Athens but to host tourists and groups with social, ecological, and cultural interests, and to reinvest the generated income in the creation of jobs, climate projects and in social services offered to a number of refugees and other people in need. It is a social experiment based on social innovation and green vision.
Our guests also have the opportunity to participate directly and indirectly in humanitarian, social, inclusive-intercultural and green projects, get informed about the situation of refugees in our country, get connected with the creative side of the city, and participate in intercultural events and activities. We also contributed to the revitalization of the neighbourhood during the financial crisis period (2016-2020) and we continue to support the local economy with social and green procurement, reduction of single use plastics and with a zero-waste strategy.
The Post – COVID19 life
Until today we have offered non-formal education, empowerment and social inclusion activities to up to 1500 refugees, the majority teenagers, women, children, with the support of 320 volunteers from all over the world, who are hosted in our hostel for 2 to 9 months. After re-opening the WELCOMMON HOSTEL in June, we took some initiatives by ourselves:
- We are now hosting a number of vulnerable refugees in Welcommon Hostel. This has become possible with collaboration of some NGOs, women organisations, the Greek Council for Refugees, the Greek Refugees Forum and communities of refugees.
- We have restarted our volunteering program Days of WELCOMMON with the support of our volunteers and the participation of many refugees.
- We try to create a supportive framework and communities of solidarity, focusing on empowerment, connecting people and finding practical solutions like baby clothes, training new mothers on breastfeeding of newborn, offering second-hand baby strollers etc.
Would you like to know more about us or support our social and green activities? Please check out our website here!
Thank you, Welcommon Hostel, for helping to provide endless opportunities to refugees in Athens and ensuring a greener, brighter future for those that visit Greece.
Let’s continue Building a Better World. Please do get in touch to let us know what your hostel is getting up to. No deed too big or too small.Stay Safe, Hostelworld Group