The neighbourhoods of Athens are being at the center of refugee integration. SynAthina therefore explores opportunities for connecting Curing the Limbo and the communities at the local level. The team works towards mobilizing communities and harnessing opportunities for connections between the program beneficiaries and the active society of Athens. At the first phase, the team conducted field research in order to identify areas for collaboration with the local initiatives of Athens, mapping, and engaging with a plethora of stakeholders (organizations, NGOs, active citizens, grassroots initiatives) and co-designing a series of participatory activities that respond to specific local city needs identified through this research phase. The end-goal of this phase is to mobilize the participant refugees of Curing the Limbo and to encourage their organic integration in the life of the city.
To this direction and in order to map the needs of the city, which will lead to the design of participatory activities, synAthina, within the framework of Curing the Limbo, inaugurated a series of research public events in the neighbourhoods of Athens. The first neighbourhood stop was Kolonos, the area that sits in the center of the 4th municipal district of the Municipality of Athens. The second one in this event series was the Victoria Square area, and the final one in the areas of Votanikos/Metaxourgio, both in December 2019.
Following a detailed method for community outreach, including interviews with locals and community groups, urban gaming and public dialogue with the community, the team collected 85 questionnaires, mapped over 230 local organizations and listed 30 different neighbourhood needs, while opening-up a public dialogue for those different localities.
Throughout the community engagement field-work, the most prominent local issues that emerged were, among other, the importance of re-activating vacant buildings and spaces that can enhance the overall process, as well as the need to support local culture and sports activities that will strengthen the interaction, co-existence and collaboration between the local and the refugee communities. These findings are going to be further explored during the thematic focus groups’ meeting which are planned to take place in the following months.