Ìrida Multicultural Women’s Centre

As a result of seeing entrenched and serious emerging needs, and gaps in provision, we have opened Ìrida a Multicultural Women’s Centre that can support women in Thessaloniki (and their families) for years to come.

InterVolve envision Ìrida to be a safe, welcoming, participatory space, where women feel a sense of belonging and respect. We want women at the centre to have a voice, a sense of ownership, and the opportunity to contribute to make things happen. We have designed Ìrida with the objective of ensuring individuals and communities can access the information, support, social connections, space and resources they need to make choices, to meet their needs, to bond, to develop and to survive and thrive.  We will create an atmosphere of safety, trust, and diversity.

Ìrida is a Greek word meaning spectrum or every shade of colour that makes up light. We chose this name to reflect and celebrate the diversity of women that will be part of our new centre, and to represent the idea of Ìrida being a place for women of all nationalities, backgrounds and skills to mix and grow together.

InterVolve is making a long term commitment to running Ìrida for, and in conjunction with, the women of Thessaloniki.

  • Many women and children living around Thessaloniki city in camps and apartments are struggling. For refugees and asylum seekers existing resources, housing and cash support, as well as support offered by NGO’s is insufficient, and will soon diminish. This will serve to exacerbate further the hardship, vulnerability to abuse, isolation, economic exclusion and ill health that people already face in the context of failing asylum procedures, inadequate humanitarian aid delivery, and an already deflated Greek economy.

 

  • The situation is more difficult for women than men, as they are less likely to have built skills and connections outside of camp communities, are less likely to have worked or undertook training in their home countries, and they find themselves having to undertake roles that are culturally unfamiliar to them. As a result of the current patterns in migration and the impact of war and violence, many women are without the support of a partner or a wider family or community network.

 

  • For other groups of women living in Thessaloniki, life can currently be tough too. This is in part because of the economic issues Greece is facing, but also because of a lack of free and accessible opportunities for self-development, wellbeing, and skills building – especially opportunities that offer a space for children. Critical social services are stretched. (E.g. ante and post-natal community support is very hard to access.) Many young women from Greece are having to leave the country in search of work, and the impact of this on local communities is tough.

 

  • A mix of local women living in Greece have also told us they too would appreciate a space where they can meet their new neighbors, learn about different cultures and where they can participate in interesting activities, skills development and cultural exchange.

 

  • Local authorities are very keen to support refugees alongside the local community and within existing frameworks, not in refugee only centres that isolate and exclude and that create resentment in the host community. There is a need for provision that draws communities together, works with local infrastructure, and helps women build the resilience and community to manage daily life together.

We are offering

  • A safe, centrally located, open access space for women living in and around the city
  • Community initiated activities and programs including
  1. Wellbeing, Psycho Social Support & Life-Skills
  2. Learning, Employment & Training
  3. Community Involvement, Access & Outreach
  4. Children’s Wellbeing & Development Activities
  5. A varied events programme to promote integration
  6. Signposting and referral to information, resources and services
  • Opportunities for cultural exchange, creativity, and independent and structured socialising
  • Quiet space to relax, connect and socialise
  • Accessibility support: e.g. provision of childcare, disability access adaptations

You can follow our progress at Ìrida and see our current programme of activities and events on our Facebook page 

 

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