Katsikas, Greece

27/04/17

We created a shopping arcade inside an empty hanger with themed boutiques in preparation for the arrival of up to 500 refugees in May 2017. They arrived in December and we’ve been there for them since then. 

Invited to set up in March 2017, we were offered a long hanger that had been used in the previous year for sorting and distribution. With no refugees on camp there was an opportunity to completely start again with a custom-made arcade. We constructed themed boutiques along a ‘market street’ for men, women, kids, shoes and a mini-market.

At the heart of our operation is the mini-market that is open Monday to Friday. Everyone on the camp receives tokens that they can use in the mini-market to buy what they want. We record what they buy so that we can track purchasing and manage the stock.

Our mini-market has served all 450-500 people at the camp, without fail, since we arrived in December 2017 and we are now preparing to do the same for an additional 500 people arriving in October 2018.

We distributed clothes though themed boutiques during much of 2018 and are now in the process of converting those for people in receipt of the Empowerment Fund: a classroom, a workshop and a perfume manufacturer!

The camp environment is crowded and impersonal and so we have worked hard to create a welcoming and attractive space for people to feel valued and have somewhere they can call theirs to gather. We built a children’s space, cafeteria and our brilliant volunteers spend a lot of time cleaning and painting. We also facilitate a weekly women’s group.

The camp provides people with a place that they can sleep but the conditions are harsh. It can only be a temporary place before they move on to rebuild their lives. Our services are there to help them get back on their feet, restore some dignity and rebuild their lives.

  • Population: 500 refugees from many different nations (rising to 1000 in October 2018)
  • Services: mini-market, some clothes distribution, kids activities, women’s time, Empowerment Fund
  • Volunteers: about 6-10 working Sunday to Friday (and days off as needed) from 9:30am-5 or 6pm
  • Volunteer accommodation: nearby Ioannina is a popular tourist and student location with many airbnb, hotels and restaurants