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When we decided to welcome#STEPSTeam to the#echaritygrSocial Pillar to cover their actions, as it is usual, in their respective social actions and initiatives, we thought we would speak with a representative, the responsible one or someone who would eventually speak on behalf of the whole STEPS Network. However, speaking with Tassos Smetopoulos- who is the heart of the STEPS Group- we understand that we are dealing with a ... father of children who care and heartbeats for each step of both the volunteer group they coordinate and the implementation of the actions but ... the long-term STEPS as well.
And somewhere here, you may wonder what STEPS is. So STEPS is a group of people who implement actions in the “field”, where some of us can go through in our daily walk in the center of Athens or every city, the world that we cherish to approach, the lives of the homeless, the addicts, the refugees, the immigrants, those people who did not "look," did not care and did not embrace as warmly as their own fear did...
STEPS is active at three different levels to help people on the road get out of it. The first step, the "street embrace", the second one "support for finding a home", and third the "support at the "integration" stage.
According to Tassos Smetopoulos, at present, about 1,700 people are in a "street state" in the Center of Athens. As he explains, "whether they are drug addicts or immigrants, refugees or victims of human trafficking, or someone who has a home but because of difficult conditions is forced to spend many hours on the road, always the reason, that leads there, is common: the failure to manage a loss."
The relationship of trust between volunteers and people living on the street has the power to cultivate the conditions for the next step and thus the next humanitarian ... STEPS are born!
Tassos Smetopoulos: Steps is a movement/group of people. We act with responsibility, based on acceptance, we communicate with respect, believing in relationships of trust. We create a circle of solidarity, from street Embraceto hosting to integration, with the aim of supporting our fellows and live in a society altogether.STEPShas no legal status, but will directly take the legal form of a non-profit corporation.For us, a legal form is simply a tool that will give us more possibilities, not the target.We will continue to operate through collective processes. It was my idea, which we started to implement in April 2016 with a group of students from Athens University, Faculty of Economics, Stathis, Natalia, Dimitris, Panos, and Konstantina.
Tassos Smetopoulos: Street Work is a method of approaching individuals, groups living on the limits or even the margin of society. They experience social exclusion as a means of punishment or even exemplification because of their diversity. Through Street Work, we approach people and not the opposite.This means that there is no clear demand on their part but through the creation of a relationship of trust, we try to find out the real needs. What differentiates us is the holistic approach to any issues and also the number of different skills of our Streeters.The team is not only composed of social scientists and it does not function supportively in one specific structure.We want to give as many choices as possible to the people we meet.
Tassos Smetopoulos: We rely first on our own internal support. We develop a network of friends and groups from around the world that support our action.The support from down is the one that gives us the independence and the ability to act based on real needs.We do not believe in an opportunistic and on a case-by-case economic agreement that aims to reward policies and serve our own interests.Anyone interested can contact us firstname.lastname@example.org
Tassos Smetopoulos: We are interested in horizontal development and not the expansion in other cities. Ideally, we want to share our know-how and support the creation of local groups.
Tassos Smetopoulos: Each of the teams we collaborate with, operates independently and has the responsibility of its own operation. Coordination remains an everyday concern, but I think our good interpersonal relationships are the ones that play a decisive role.
Tassos Smetopoulos: It was my own, personal journey through which I acquired knowledge which I wanted to do something with. I know and understand the "other side" much better. I know from the inside the system malfunctions, which turn into an advantage because we avoid actions that do not lead to solutions.
Tassos Smetopoulos: There are many cases of people who, while coming to meet some of their needs, ask to participate.Every time it's spontaneous.
Tassos Smetopoulos: In addition to Street Embrace (Street Work), One Stop / Street Project Movement is currently running in cooperation with Ithaca Laundry and ROADS every Wednesday and Sunday afternoon (18.00 - 22.00) at 55 Athena Street (Varvakio Square market) in the building of #SynAthena. Recently, the Society for Social Psychiatry & Mental Health and the Echo Refugee Library were added. This action involves people coming from different parts of the planet.