In a series of consultative meetings held in Larisa, representatives from various stakeholders, including the municipality of Larisa and Innovation Hive, gathered to address the challenges faced by youth migrants and refugees in the region. The primary focus of these discussions revolved around the everyday problems encountered by this demographic, with particular emphasis on language barriers, insufficient educational opportunities, and limited access to vocational training and the labor market.
Language emerged as a significant obstacle, with participants highlighting the insufficient number of Greek language courses and other programs available. To tackle this, the group proposed the continuation and expansion of existing Greek learning courses, including the introduction of programs for learning additional languages. The support of lifelong learning centers was enlisted to facilitate these initiatives. Additionally, remedial teaching for students in public schools and the encouragement of inclusive participation in summer camps organized by the Municipality of Larissa were suggested as means to enhance language skills.
Addressing the lack of vocational and technical training programs, as well as poor connections to the labor market, participants identified common solutions. These included the inclusion of all citizens in vocational programs offered by lifelong learning centers, the establishment and promotion of a dedicated career day for refugees and immigrants, mentoring and consulting services, and support in creating effective CVs.
Two additional actions were presented during the meeting. The first, a pilot program named “One Stop Shop,” funded by UNHCR, aims to foster social integration by focusing on job placement for beneficiaries with support from municipal social services, such as the social grocery. This program emphasizes equitable access to services for all vulnerable groups in the borough. The second initiative involves the establishment of a Small Business Support Office within a job center, providing services to at least 150 unemployed individuals looking to establish small businesses. This comprehensive support includes addressing legal issues, accounting, coaching, financing, networking, marketing, and management consulting.
All participants acknowledged the importance of implementing these proposed actions and initiatives to facilitate the integration of immigrants and refugees into local life. The commitment to ongoing collaboration was evident, with the next meeting of the consultative body scheduled for September. These efforts underscore Larisa’s dedication to fostering a more inclusive and supportive community for youth migrants and refugees.