“The services that I received were amount the best of any organisation I encountered in the camp. They provided us with a range of support, and were it not for this organisation, God knows in what state the residents of Softex would have been in. They provided what we needed, as well as psychological support from the volunteers. It was the only organisation that acted ethically and with compassion”.
InterVolve operated in the Softex Camp in Kordelio on the outskirts of Thessaloniki since it opened in May 2016 until its closure in August 2017. As the first non-governmental actor at Softex, we worked hard to build infrastructure, provide sanitation, supply clean water and improve safety, health and comfort, to develop safe and effective means of distributing basic items, and to provide basic entertainment and distraction for the 1600 residents coming to terms with life in this bleak site. We also assumed a key role in protection. After a few months, with the help of residents and a hard-working volunteer team, we were able to start expanding our work to respond to some of the longer-term needs of the residents, by providing opportunities for education, social interaction and positive activity.
Since fall of 2016, with the support of resident volunteers, we ran a full daily programme of educational, sports, arts and psycho-social support activities for children, women and men in our Cultural Centre and Hope School. We also provided clothing through our onsite boutique, and regularly distributed hygiene items, supplementary dry food and fresh vegetables.
We also offered daily Skype sessions to enable people to access vital legal information and attend virtual appointments. In addition to our daily site schedule, InterVolve worked hard to respond quickly and effectively to the changing daily needs of the community, to fill gaps, and to support ideas that arose in the community. We also coordinated events, celebrations, special activities and programmes.
On the outskirts of the formal camp of Softex people who are not registered residents lived in even more dire conditions. The team at Softex worked to ensure that this population had access to resources and support that help maintain life, ensure freedom of movement, and improve well-being. Softex camp has closed. We have adapted our approach, and are working hard to ensure that people’s needs are met at this time of transition by developing ways of supporting independence and delivering a family outreach and training programme.