City: Athens and the rest of Attica region
An NGO working to support the rights of homeless people; through a wide range of activities, it assists homeless and socially excluded people in their struggle to join or rejoin the social fabric. Two core operations include a street magazine “Shedia” and a homeless soccer team.
Photo courtesy of living-postcards.com and Diogenis street magazine Shedia
Holding Organisation: Diogenis street magazine Shedia Status: non-profit organisation People involved in the project: 30 people who work for the magazine and the football team, 120 street sellers of the magazine Public partners: NO Private Partners: Stavros Niarchos Foundation (www.snf.org) Sources and links: http://shedia.gr/
The idea is to publish a magazine by homeless people responsible for its operation, publication and distribution. The aim is to guarantee a minimum income to the sellers of the magazine and to regain a sense of "belonging" in the community.
The local context:
Even before the economic crisis in Greece, there was an unspecified number of homeless people. In the last four years this number has grown, something which has been highlighted by the media and the State. In spite of this, there continues to be no formal social care policy and only small steps have been taken to provide basic needs such as food or accommodation in hostels.
The starting point:
The NGO "Diogenes" first decided to create a football team, which participated in the Homeless World Cup in Copenhagen in 2007. It was here that the idea of creating a street magazine called “Shedia” was conceived, after gaining expertise from similar ventures abroad.
Steps and development of the action:
- 2007: the football team "National Homeless" participates in the Homeless World Cup in Copenhagen
- 2011: start of publication of the magazine
- 2013: funding of the magazine by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation
How does it work?
The editorial-organising team consists of 4-5 people, who are responsible for the material of the magazine. Moreover, there is a list of people who work as sellers of the magazine on the street. The sellers start their job by getting 10 magazines as capital. Then, they prepay the magazines that they will sell for €3 per issue, from which €1.5 goes to the magazine while the rest is left to the seller as profit. The working hours are flexible and are determined by each seller personally. The selling points are fixed but each seller alternates between these locations.
Internal regulation determines the behavior of the sellers. For example, you cannot sell the magazine in places without permission; you are obliged to issue a receipt for each sell; you must look respectable, wearing a waistcoat with logos of the magazine; and you cannot accept financial donations.
On a second level, the magazine aims to support the sellers during a process of economic independence as well as to find their own place to live, to leave the street and the public shelters and to live independently lives.
Another important activity is the football team that participates in the World Championships, which has found support from the Municipality of Athens by its offer of a free field to train.
Recently, the Association has started the project “suspended coffee”-“ένας καφές σε περιμένει” in the city of Athens. In this project, a coffee is prepaid by a customer of a coffee shop or restaurant, anonymously, to be consumed later by another of the citizens who cannot afford to pay for it. The project aims not only to create a large network of coffee shops in which the sellers of “Shedia” and others who experience exclusion can have a cup of coffee, but also to support financially the local shops in a period of economic difficulties.
Added value of the project and making resources available:
- Social benefits: it treats the homeless not as passive receivers of assistance from the State, but as active members of society, taking responsibility for their own lives. Moreover, it gives a sense of "belonging" to the community, making visible the homeless as part of society and dispelling stereotypes that exist around them. - Economic benefits: it provides a small income to sellers-homeless in order that they may become financially independent
- The magazine has been known to the public for a short time so there is great interest from people to work as sellers, which has led to a waiting list for sellers as well as the need to find more selling locations.
- The goal is to support socially the homeless through the sale of the magazine, which requires the cooperation of "Shedia" with various organisations, social services and NGOs. But above all this, the contribution of the State is required by developing a central social policy on the issue of homelessness, something that does not exist up to now.
The main goal is for the magazine to become economically viable from its own income over the next seven months. Also, in the following months there are plans for the sale of the magazine to be expanded to Thessaloniki, Volos and Patras, and for the project “suspended coffee” to be spread to most of the existing stores of Athens and other Greek cities.