The Hellenic Cultural Centre (ECP) Berlin is located in Steglitz, next to the Greek Orthodox Church, and is housed with the Greek-German kindergarten FILIA. For more than 20 years it has been the seat of 13 Greek associations, namely the Greek community of Berlin and the clubs (alphabetically) FC Hellas, Hellas Basket, sextant, parents and guardians of Berlin, primary education teachers, Greek-German choir Berolinioy "polyphony", Greek scientists of Berlin-Brandenburg, Greek students of Berlin, Epirus, Thessalon, Thracans, Cretans, Macedonians and Pontic Berlin "the Highmen".
The organizing body of the EPK is the Greek community of Berlin (ECB), the largest non-profit Greek association of Berlin, which has for decades played a central role in the Hellenism of the diaspora and performs an important project in field of self-organization and self-help of people of Greek descent in Berlin.
The EPK is a multicultural meeting point for people of Greek, German or other origin with common denominator the interest in Greek history, language and tradition, intercultural communication and the need to resolve common Problems and difficulties. It is the only Greek collective that attempts organized and in practice to welcome and assist the new wave of migration from Greece of the crisis and in spite of its underfunding by the German state and the non-funding from the Greek state continues to offer tremendous humanitarian and cultural work.
The ECB receives from the German state annual funding with which it fulfils a wide range of activities and liabilities. This funding is payable following the submission and approval of a project (Projekt), which is drawn up by the ECB. The current project (2016-2017) is titled "Partizipation durch Empowerment und Herkunftsübergreifende Zusammenarbeit im Griechischen Kulturzentrum", i.e. "participation through empowerment and cooperation in the Greek Cultural centre irrespective of origin" . However, this work, as illustrated by the title itself, finances integration into German society and Intercultural Communication and not the development and cultivation of Greek culture. All cultural and cultural activities that take place in the Greek cultural center, are made by our means, i.e. Either with donations and subscriptions, or voluntarily. For the Greek immigrants of Berlin, cultural expression is an integral part of our national identity and we believe that it is the duty of the ECB to assist in the organisation of activities that promote it.
Project objectives: Participation, empowerment, democracy
- Reception and assistance of the new migratory current due to a crisis
- Participation in German society, social conscription, combating racist stereotypes, promoting tolerance and intercultural communication
- The opportunity to participate and organize cultural-cultural activities such as dances, theatrical groups, courses etc.
- Networking with other immigrant associations, German bodies related to migration and Greek institutions (church, consulate)
Social reference groups
The estimated Greek population in Berlin has reached the last years of 12,000 and is constantly tending to grow. The reason is the economic crisis that affects southern and eastern Europe, including Greece, and the fact that Berlin is a popular destination for Greek students and students, as well as for scientific potential that He's seeking specialization.
The first line of reception of the Greeks is the EPK, which offers new immigrants the "first aid" in the organization of their new life but also counseling and rich program of activities for every topic of everyday life and cultural Events.
New migratory flow
The new generation of Greek immigrants in Berlin has no uniform characteristics. On the one hand, they are academics that are skilled workers, people with high education, multilingual and trained. On the other hand, there is a growing tendency to arrive families with young children, unskilled labour, people who could no longer live decently in Greece and seek their future in Berlin.
However, this potential is likely to remain untapped due to fundamental problems in their integration. The biggest problem is language. Without the knowledge of the German language immigrants are in literal helplessness. They cannot cope with the bureaucratic demands of the German state, encounter difficulties on everyday issues, such as a visit to the doctor and cannot be informed of their legal and social rights in the German legal order . The second major problem is the finding of housing, in a city with huge demand in the real estate market. The image of people sleeping in cars or at airports and coming with their suitcases to the EPK to seek help is everyday life. The third burning issue is the process of recognising professional and academic diplomas from the German state, social security and finding a job.
The first generation of "Gamstarbiter"
The first generation of Greek immigrants in Berlin dates back to the 60, and came as "guest workers/Gamstarbaiter". 70% of these migrants have not been able to integrate effectively into German society and have no satisfactory knowledge of German. As a result, these people are looking for a meeting, communication and Socialisation point in the EPK in order to avoid marginalisation, loneliness and depression. These are people already in retirement, which is, in fact, generally low. In the areas of the EPK there is a café with food and refreshments at social prices, which has become the daily "hangout" for this generation.
The 2nd and 3rd generation and their children and grandchildren
This social category is partially integrated into German society and still needs help in dealing with everyday life in Berlin. Even for the part that fully holds the German language and communication it is extremely difficult to integrate, as there is a strong need for searching, understanding and experiencing the Greek side of the identity of these people, in order to be Balanced and complete personality. This search seems particularly strong in Greek children who attend German education and now have German as their first language but visit the EPK to learn Greek folk dances, attend events and Participating in the various programmes.
German philhellenes, interested in Greek culture
Greek culture is a means of integrating into the Society of Reception and communication with other peoples. This philosophy has been met by a large number of Germans who hang out at the EPK, attend its activities and events and are interested in the Greek language, Mediterranean cuisine, music and art.
Immigrants from countries of southern and Eastern Europe
Since there is no Cyprus association in Berlin, the ECP is also the collective organisation and activity organization and the Cypriots of Berlin, who have the same problems and needs as the Greek affected from the Crisis. There are Cypriot groups of artists and students who enrich the activities of the Centre and are a large part of the active members of the club.
The same applies to migrants from countries in southern and eastern Europe, who have the same experiences from their countries of origin, face the same problems and have many common references to music, cuisine and traditions with Greeks of the diaspora. Many services and events take place in English, German and French, so that they are open to these social categories as well.
EPK Actions and programmes
Support programmes for new immigrants
The economic crisis in Greece has led to an ever greater migratory flow towards the German capital. Young students and students, people with their families in search of work, people with great potential offering, beyond their academic and professional knowledge offer their perspective and valuable social experience. The EPK welcomes these people, helps them cope with the difficulties in their accession in the host society and at the same time ensures that they maintain contact with their cultural origins and cultural identity.
The EIDHR is intensively engaged in the creation of solidarity networks and mutual assistance for these people:
- It provides free escort and interpreting services for the necessary contacts with the German administration and state organization, as well as for daily activities such as visiting the doctor or the real estate agency. These services are provided on a voluntary basis by members of the EPK associations, immigrants for immigrants, members of the volunteer group, and the aim is to create "multipliers", that is, socially active citizens who help each other and stand Solidarity to each other. In this list of volunteers there are already 45 people, among them lawyers, who accompany on average 50 new immigrants per month. Here it is worth noting that the services of the German state (registration in the municipal register, OAED, applications for social AIDS) are provided exclusively in German, so it is necessary to accompany people who do not possess the language from Diernineis. The cost of an interpreter is unbearable for the economically ill Greek immigrants, who are the majority of the new arrivals. This makes the work of the EPK, a work that has been recognized by the German state and the Greek authorities here and embraced by the Hellenism of Berlin, invaluable.
- The Web page of the Greek community of Berlin is regularly updated and adapted to the needs of the new immigrants. There you can find brochures with informative material and advice on the first steps in Germany, while also hosting adverts for housing and work, calendar with events and happenings, and more generally useful information material. The construction and renewal of the website is carried out on a voluntary basis by members of the community.
- Daily the EPK receives a plethora of requests for information and counseling from young immigrants, who mostly ignore the German language, are homeless and unemployed. The questions focus mainly on issues of language learning, finding housing and working. Statistically there are 70 to 100 such requests per week. The requests are being processed and answered by the EIDHR Coordination Office, which so far employs, due to lack of funds, only a partially employed worker for 23 hours per week. The workload is enormous and the whole system of counselling is in danger of collapse, if the necessary financial support is not immediately available.
- The role of the EPK as a reference point for new immigrants is important. It is often the case that young immigrants do not know where they should go for their affairs and which department is responsible for their problem. In the EPK they find a guidance, as well as a framework for socialising, entertaining and creating dating and social networks.
- In addition to the Stammtisch program, a cycle of meetings of young immigrants is held with the guidance of a social scientist, structured in weekly group sessions aimed at socialization, mutual assistance and the avoidance of Isolation of new migrants.
- Events, seminars and workshops are organized at regular intervals, with issues of social benefits and insurance, the labour market, the prospects of training and recognition of Greek professional licenses and diplomas. Often these events are carried out in cooperation with the German authorities responsible for each issue, in order to provide reliable and accurate information to new immigrants.
Programmes to support the integration of older people and women.
In the COC, the coexistence of so many different age and social groups is both a goal and a challenge. 1st generation immigrants coexist so much problems from their non-inclusion in the host society, as well as problems related to the elderly, but with perceptions about the position and role of women who do not fit into a modern Democratic society.
The EPK addresses these problems through the promotion of culture and art, as well as through specific programmes of activity and involvement of these social groups.
The Women's group
The Group of women of the EPK aims to promote the awareness of the role of women, as equal to man, the empowerment of females, the dissertation of their special problems, their socialising and the avoidance of social exclusion.
The third-age group
The group of senior citizens of the EPK aims to dissertation issues of the problematic "Third Age and Social exclusion". It contributes to the socialization of the elderly, to helping each other and to prevent loneliness, the sense of abandonment and depression, through collective celebrations, debates and events.
Adaptation to German society, active participation in cooperation with German associations and groups
Adaptation is one of the main aims of the cultural centre. Through our actions the cultural center evolved to a meeting point for the Greeks, for the German neighbours and friends. This coexistence of people of all generations, meeting cultures and every inhabitant of Berlin became feasible through networking with German groups and organisations.