Irida Women’s Center is a safe space with community-building activities, forming an open, resilient, and multicultural community for refugee, asylum-seeking, migrant, and local women. To support our community members, our aid is based on four, determinant principles:
- Protection and Security
- Psychological and Focused Empowerment and Support
- Promoting the Integration Policy and Procedure
At Irida Women’s Center, we offer:
- Protection Services
- Legal Aid
- Educational and Learning Opportunities
- Recreational Activities led by community members
- Emergency Response and Outreach
Through the above services, our members express themselves freely, socialize, establish social bonds, and create friendships and personal networks that usually work as a safety net for them.
Furthermore, they feel safe, empowered, and supported to participate in the center’s programming, take over key working positions to project, become agents of change for their lives at first, families, and communities at large, and grow into active citizens within the broader, local community.
Οn average, every month, we support 180 community members with access to protection services.
A. Support with Living Costs:
We provide refugee and asylum-seeking women who are not eligible to receive state-provided cash assistance with access to food and personal hygiene items.
B. Holistic Support related to Protection for our beneficiaries and members of their families:
We provide refugee and asylum-seeking women and their family members with holistic support for needs related to protection.
A vast number of refugees and asylum-seekers found themselves marginalized and excluded from the system, with no access to primary social protection provisions, including access to food and other necessities, safe housing, healthcare, medication, psychological support, and valid information.
We provide essential support regularly to community members and entire families, which otherwise they could not have accessed, responding to every need related to the protection they have.
C. Emergency Interventions related to Protection:
We conduct interventions related to:
- Access to medication: we cover the costs of medicines for emergency cases or for community members who suffer from chronic illnesses and do not have the means to purchase their medication.
- Access to healthcare: we cover the costs of private medical appointments when women cannot access the public sector. For example, when they do not have an AMKA – social insurance number – they cannot visit public hospitals, or public hospitals do not accept appointments due to the pandemic.
- Support to GBV cases: our organization is an integral part of the protection plan for GBV cases, as designed and implemented by specialized actors. We provide victims with our support for anything vital for their safety, including covering costs for safe accommodation, providing mobile devices and phone credit, covering transport costs, and providing interpretation.
- Safe Transportation: we ensure safe transportation for community members in cases of emergency.
The interventions conducted by our organization are not limited to the above list. This list includes standard provisions we are called to support regularly.
We provide women within our community – and often their family members – with legal services, filling the existing gap in legal aid and support for refugee, asylum-seeking, and migrant women living in Thessaloniki.
Our services include:
- Counseling and Advising
The above services concern any kind of legal affair or case related to Migration Law and Asylum Process, Civil Law, and Family Law.
On average, we provide 60 women with legal aid services every month.
Educational and Learning Opportunities
Many women and girls with refugee and migrant backgrounds struggle to access learning opportunities. On many occasions, women and girls have been excluded from the educational systems in their country of origin while at the same time, they are unable to find or access learning opportunities based on their needs in the host countries.
Lack of education in countries of origin and destination creates immense challenges for refugee and migrant women to access safe-living conditions for themselves and/or their children, job opportunities, and decision-making positions, placing them in a position of dependency from male family members, state allowances, and NGOs provisions to survive.
- English Courses
- Greek Courses
- Literacy Classes for illiterate community members in their native language
- Computer Lessons
- German Classes familiarize
- Life Skills Sessions for our community members to feel empowered and become self-sufficient.
At Irida Women’s Center, we highly value any form of education, and we take into serious consideration any special needs a community member may have.
Recreational and Entertaining Activities
Recreational and entertaining activities hold a unique place in our services. Refugee asylum-seeking and migrant women usually have limited to zero access to recreational and entertaining activities.
We strongly believe that recreational and entertaining activities are a vehicle for personal expression and self-development and a powerful tοοl for trauma-healing and direct and indirect psycho-social and emotional support.
We provide a safe and multicultural space where women can:
- express themselves
- share their unique stories and raise awareness
- craft and create together
- manage and release their stress and anxiety
- cultivate their self-confidence, self-respect, and their personal growth
- develop social skills and establish social connections and make friendships
- build solidarity and community
- access a safe and trusting atmosphere to express themselves, interact with each other, and share their challenges and experiences
- develop a sense of belonging to the community and a willingness to offer and give back.
Recreational Activities are led by women within our community who feel empowered members of their communities and express their willingness to contribute with their time and skills, aiming to share their knowledge and empower their peers.
At Irida Women’s Center, we offer:
- Arts and crafts sessions
- Sewing classes
- Cultural Outings
Through our recreational and entertaining activities, we celebrate their unique skills and talents, harnessing this creative process to foster new channels of empowerment, support, storytelling, and advocacy.
Emergency Response and Outreach
Irida Women’s Center provides emergency response and relief supporting other refugee and local communities who are in need and in times of crisis. Although our focus is to protect, empower and support women and young girls, we always stand in solidarity with human-being who need any kind of help and support, regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, religion, and gender.
- We respond to urgent needs and requests related to food and non-food items, including personal hygiene products, medications, clothes, and cleaning supplies,
- We are an active actor and part of the local community, reaching out and responding to long-term needs and emergencies.