SOS Children in Greece has received 700-800 requests from families since the beginning of 2011 asking for help.
Prior to the financial crisis, the most common reason for families and local authorities referring children to our care was due to child abuse. In the past year, nearly 100% of new referrals are as a result of a financial crisis in the family.
SOS Children in Greece has been able to support almost all families who have approached them so far through its four Family Strengthening Programmes (FSPs) in the country. FSPs work to keep families together in difficult circumstances, by providing families with food, clothes and loans to start businesses and support their children financially.
Where this is not possible or the situation so extreme, our three SOS Children's Villages are able to provide a loving home for children with no one else to care for them. In recent times four children – whose plight was particularly extreme – have found new mothers and families in SOS Children Villages. SOS Children has three such Villages in Greece.
The situation in Greece is getting worse. A 2011 report from SOS Children in Athens shows a significant upsurge of requests for help from families since the summer – and staff expect the situation to become even more difficult over the coming months.
SOS Children is not government-supported and relies on private donations. However, income is rapidly reducing as the economic crisis takes hold and people are unable to afford to donate.
Andrew Cates, the Chief Executive of SOS Children UK, says that children being abandoned by families, then taken into care as a result of poverty, is commonplace in many of the locations where SOS Children works. This has certainly been the case in Africa where the charity has operated for the past 40 years. However, it is particularly unusual to see desperate families unable to continue caring for their children in parts of Europe.