Financial crisis: Families turn to SOS Children for help
Families affected by the financial crisis in Greece are struggling to care for their children. SOS Children has seen a 70% increase in requests for support from parents unable to afford to provide for their families. We are helping families to stay together through our four Family Strengthening Programmes in the country, which provide tailored support to enable children to grow up with their parents.
A traditional tourist hot-spot, Greece has officially been in recession for the past four years. Official estimates suggest that the economy shrank by a shocking 6.2% in the first three months of 2012. Families, particularly single-parent households, have been particularly badly affected by the current economic crisis. The Greek state has cut social services by 40% and many parents have no one to turn to for support.
Before the financial crisis hit, the most common reason for families and local authorities referring children to SOS Children’s care was as a result of child abuse. In the past year, nearly 100% of new referrals are as a result of a financial crisis in the family and since the beginning of 2011 SOS Children in Greece has received 700-800 requests from families for help.
SOS Children have been working in Greece for 35 years and are well positioned to help families in the current crisis. We have been able to support almost all families who have approached our charity so far through our four Family Strengthening Programmes (FSPs). FSPs keep families together in difficult circumstances, by providing them with food, clothes and loans to start businesses and support their children financially.
Expanding our Family Strengthening Programmes
Due to the overwhelming demand for our support, we are now broadening our existing SOS Family Strengthening Programme in Athens, and establishing a new programme to help families in Thessaloniki in Northern Greece.
The SOS Family Strengthening Programme in Athens already supports the families of over 200 children. The programme will expand to offer services including educational assistance for children with learning difficulties, enabling them to catch up with their peers. The Programme will run counselling sessions for parents, to help them to deal with the stress of tough economic times, resolve family conflict and support their children with any emotional issues they might be experiencing. During 2012-13, we are planning to reach out to over 800 individuals, 550 of these children and young people.
Thessaloniki, in Northern Greece, is the country’s second biggest city. Already home to an SOS Children’s Village and a Youth Home, we are now in the process of establishing a Family Strengthening Programme to support families who are struggling to cope in the community. The FSP will operate out of a centrally-located apartment in the city and during 2012-3 we plan to provide support for 350 individuals. The programme will also train 50 teachers to meet the needs of vulnerable children they come into contact with.
BBC News recently visited an SOS Children's Village in Greece and learnt about the situation of children living there. You can watch the video online here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18166501
22 May 2012