Grant to the “Together for Children” Association for a charity concert at the Herod Atticus Theatre on September 26, the proceeds from which will promote the causes of the Association’s 10 member-organisations. “Together for Children” was formed in 1996 by 10 non-profit organisations in order to combine their work for children in need. The Association’s foremost aim is to provide all kinds of help to children and young people who are dealing with social exclusion, domestic violence, chronic diseases, mental or physical disabilities and the sickness or death of an immediate family member. “Together for Children” helps over 10,000 children every year through psychological, moral and financial support and raises awareness about children in need through special campaigns. www.mazigiatopaidi.gr
A powerful association based on the ‘unity is strength’ principle, since its inception in 1996 it has proved to be an umbrella for the protection of its member societies, expanding into an increasing number of vulnerable population groups despite the current economic hardships.
Together for Children is a union of nine non-profit welfare organisations that cater to over 30,000 children and their families every year, while providing systematic care to more than 10,000 children.
The association supports and promotes through coordinated yet tailor-made actions nine institutions —PAIDIKI STEGI Children’s Home Foundation, HATZIPATERION Social Work Foundation, Cerebral Palsy Greece, Friends of Theotokos Foundation, HARA Centre for Individuals with Special Needs, Panhellenic Juvenile Diabetes Union, Friends of the Child, PNOE and Merimna’s Friends— focusing on infants, children, adolescents and young people by providing material, spiritual, medical and moral support.
“The Greek market is severely hit by the economic crisis, and while the association’s member-organisations receive state subsidies these have been cut by some 70% since 2009. At the same time, the private-sector enterprises which used to help continue to do so but their contributions are markedly lower. So all foundations, whether state-subsidised or not, are in severe financial difficulties”.
Amidst this downturn, volunteerism is the only field with a growth trend, for reasons not related to the crisis per se but with unemployment.
“There is quite a number of people who have been made redundant and wish to come out of their home and remain active, plus many young people who graduate and seek to gain skills and professional experience. These two reasons have contributed to the growth of volunteerism, and this in itself represents a major resource for Together for Children and all institutions. However, volunteerism needs organisation, infrastructure, management and training in order to be efficient”.
There is also an increasing desire on the part of sponsoring companies to link their contribution to some original, novel action. Yet an organisation like Together for Children must first meet some key needs such as the wages for the people who provide specialist care on a daily basis: work therapists, speech therapists, physiotherapists, social workers, psychologists. It is not always feasible to create something novel and be linked to a sponsorship. Sponsors must realise that meeting the key needs is the first and most important step before other, more ‘impressive’ actions can be designed.
“Happily, there is still support by some institutions that realise the essential need for the survival of those who depend on welfare organisations. Some corporations develop their own social responsibility programmes which end up ‘diluting’ the total offering. Now more than ever we need to join forces rather than develop original ideas. The market cannot ‘take’ too many new actions; it needs support for the key needs and activities, and united rather than dispersed resources to meet the basic needs and ensure the implementation of the programmes”.
Together for Children has broadened its programmes with the emphasis on education, psychological support for children and families and the hands-on help to the survival of families in need. Its programmes include the 11525 Helpline and the Consulting Centre that complements the helpline services, the “I Give Because I Care” initiative for the collection of emergency goods for Attica, the Food Relief programme with over 240 beneficiaries, the ‘Iris’-Hospitality Centre for Unaccompanied Minors which provides medical care, board and basic everyday products, and the programme for minimising school dropout rates for children with difficulties in attending school. None of these actions or, indeed, the core activity of supporting the 9 member institutions, would be possible without the voluntary contribution of the private sector.
“The Paul & Alexandra Canellopoulos Foundation has supported us many times—annually, in recent years. Although it is a Foundation associated with culture, in which it continues to promote some great initiatives, it has also seen the need to support life, promote survival so that culture can also flourish in turn”.
* Discussion with Ms Maria Hatzinikolaki, Head of Projects & Fundraising for Together for Children.