“We mainly encounter newly homeless people who used to rent and had family, but then lost their jobs and were forced to sleep on the streets,” explained social worker Eleni Papastergiou, who is in charge of the facility.
She related the example of a man with four underage children who lost his job and couldn’t deal with the pressure, so left home in order not to be a burden to his family. According to Papastergiou, “He slept on the streets for a long time, but when he came to the dormitory we helped him to find a new job and he eventually went back to his family.”
The male dormitory consists of 44 beds which are full every night. The female dormitory is almost empty, with just four women. “Women are not as easily left to live on the street. They are more protected by those close to them and furthermore there are many dormitories for women who have been physically abused,” explained the social worker, adding that in a few months they will have a better picture of what facilities are needed.
The dormitory is located in a 750 square meter building provided by the Charitable Brotherhood of Thessaloniki, for a period of ten years. Redecoration and equipment costs were covered by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
“The dormitory opens at 7pm in order to accommodate the homeless. It provides dinner and then breakfast, closing at 9am. We always try to support all homeless people who arrive and all we ask of them is to not “give up, to make themselves comfortable and to try to change their lives,” concluded Eleni Papastergiou.
The dormitory is operated in cooperation with the social NGO, ARSIS, and also provides dry cleaning facilities, conference rooms and psychological support for the homeless.