ECR Party

Project Maja to help struggling Greek citizens

ACRE works in Athens this week with two charities helping those most affected by the euro currency crisis.

Over 30 participants from the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE) are in Athens this week to work with two charities that provide much needed support to Greek homeless and excluded citizens. As part of the Eurozone, the financial crisis of nearly a decade ago hit the Greek economy very hard, and the repercussions are seen in the high levels of socially and financially excluded people, with unemployment at around 25% and basic state provisions patchy. The country’s geographic location has also placed it at the very frontline of the migrant crisis, with economic migrants and refugees arriving daily from Africa and the Middle East.
The ACRE delegation, led by Daniel Hannan MEP and including MEPs, MPs and activists from 14 countries are working with the independent Praksis organisation to re-equip and redecorate two service centres much relied upon by those struggling – a homeless day centre and a polyclinic with medical and dental facilities. Mere streets away from Athens’ striking tourist attractions, a different side emerges as the number of people coming to these centres for help has greatly increased and shows no sign of waning.

Commenting on the project, ACRE Secretary General Daniel Hannan, said:

The delegation is also joining forces with the Shedia charity and its Kick Out Poverty campaign, which uses the incentive of playing in football tournaments as a way to support homeless Greeks to socialise, exercise and re-integrate in society.

The ACRE will construct an artificial pitch in front of the iconic Zappeion ceremonial hall in central Athens and play a charity football game with players from Athenian homeless teams – whose motto is “we play to become better people, not necessarily better footballers”.

ACRE Vice President Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP said:

We share that sentiment. We are partnering with Shedia as its focus is very much about giving people a helping hand, not a hand out. Their Shedia street paper (modelled on the UK’s Big Issue magazine) and other programmes are designed to let those who want to re-enter the world of work do so whilst building experience and self-confidence.

At the charity football event, to be held on the morning of Saturday 12 November, ACRE will also distribute 14 full football kits for all age groups that were kindly donated to Project Maja by London’s Tottenham Hotspur football club.

The project is the latest instalment of Project Maja – the ACRE’s social action work programme – which has run projects in Turkey, Bosnia, Bangladesh, Croatia and Sicily, and aims to help policy makers experience and participate directly in the social problems they are often called upon to discuss and plan interventions for in parliaments.