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Start date: Jan 1, 2016, End date: Jul 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The social cooperative Social Cooperative Activities for Vulnerable Groups - EDRA operates in the field of mental health/disabilities since 2001. EDRA has developed a variety of programmes and structures in the community aiming at the prevention, promotion, rehabilitation and sensitization of the community around mental health, stigmatization and social exclusion of vulnerable groups. Since the beginning, EDRA counts and evaluate voluntarism as a mean of solidarity, mean of expression of active citizenship, as well as mean for personal development. EDRA is active as hosting organization since 2007 offering a hosting project for four (4) volunteers for a period of 6 up to12 months. The volunteers hosted by the organization EDRA, besides the need to prove their pure motivation to work with people with disabilities and to fight against discrimination/social inclusion, they are not expected to have other prior skills or knowledge to work as volunteers (unless, of course, from basic communication skills in English).Volunteers offer their services in the rehabilitation houses and the center for alternative therapies. At the same time, they support all the activities and events organized by the organization, such as charity events, bazaars, sport event for people with disabilities, Festival Art for More, environmental educational programme for children, the unit for food-destribution, as well as other informative events in the community.Volunteers’ tasks are centered on supporting the quality of life and the rehabilitation / integration process of mental health service users and other disadvantaged individuals being at risk of social exclusion. For providing all the above mentioned services, EDRA uses therapeutic tools and means, such as psychological support, expression / creative groups, various therapeutic procedures like music therapy, art therapy, psychodrama, a productive workshop for hand-made items, as well as various educational programmes. All these are taking place in a therapeutic environment under proper supervision and training of mental health professionals, the mentor and the volunteers’ coordinator. The impact of the project for volunteers is focused on the development and/or improvement of skills, personal and professional. The project offers enriching learning opportunities: a) for developing communication skills in foreign languages, b) for developing flexibility and adjustability in new conditions, mediation skills, conflict management and time management skills, c) for intercultural learning and cultural awareness, d) for new knowledge on mental health disorders and mental health professional profiles, e) for developing social skills, like empowerment and sensitization over contemporary problems of people with mental health problems, opportunity for expressing solidarity, and other values being on the ground for active citizenship. The project has great and positive impact on young people. Besides support offered to mental health service users, volunteers support the organizational capacity of the organization in order to broaden and/or enrich its services. At the same time, through their daily contact, volunteers act as "role models" for their peers in local level and inspire other young people to engage in similar actions. In a broader sense, the greek community is sensitized and immunized through the contact with foreigners, and in some ways, it minimizes the resistance to new, different, foreign, and, consequently, negative stereotypes are shaken down. Volunteers bring and introduce the value of voluntarism into the local community as well as in their home countries. By spreading the project and mental health problems (social exclusion, stigma, ecc), they act as carrier for social change and social cohesion, through expressing solidarity towards vulnerable groups. Moreover, the promoters organizations broaden their network, exchange new ideas and good practices, and are renewed by the freshness and energy of young people.

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