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Asylum Reception Centre at Kofinou District Short Report Progress Short description:

Improvement of the living conditions at Kofinou Asylum Reception Centre. The University of Nicosia – Social Work Programme

Intercollege

proposed

the

operational

transformation of the Centre in an organisational structure that

will

adopt

modern

principles

of

organisational

management, parallel to the provision of comprehensive social welfare support. The assistance focuses on providing adequate administrative and psycho-social welfare support for its temporary residents. Furthermore, a number of recreational activities are designed and performed with the main purpose to be the inclusion of residents in the Cypriot society.

Field of activity:

Reception and Accommodation to Asylum Seekers; social welfare and psychological treatment; counselling; prevention; health information

Target group:

Asylum Seekers: priority is given to families and single women, children and elderly people

Target of the

Asylum seekers who are hosted at the Asylum Reception

project/

Centre at Kofinou

activity/programme:

Context:

The centre is located in an urban area, 3 kilometres away from the Kofinou village. It is located in the middle of republic of Cyprus close to the three major cities of Cyprus.

Long description:

Centre’s Main characteristics Legal entity The Kofinou Reception Centre is the only open centre in

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OF CYPRUS

MINISTRY OF INTERIOR ASYLUM SERVICE

EUROPEAN COMMISSION EUROPEAN REFUGEE FUND


Cyprus. The centre started to be operational in January 2004. The Kofinou reception centre falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior. In particular, it is under the auspices of Asylum Service. Daily organisation and actual running of the centre is carried out by the Community Voluntary Council of Kofinou.

Housing characteristics and capacity The

centre,

which

is

composed

of

18

rectangular

prefabricated units, has a maximum capacity of 120 people, but currently as it gives priority to families and single women can accommodate about 85 people only. Four units are used for the administration, another four units as common spaces and two of them as sanitary units. The remaining 8 units are used as personal spaces for asylum seekers. All units are air conditioned. Showers and toilets are shared by the residents. A playground for children was recently improved and is still undergoing some improvements. The centre hosts families and single women in particular.

Freedom of movements As it is an open centre, there is freedom of movement for those residents with the relevant identity documentation. Residents are requested to sign in/out in an attendance book. The same procedures exist for any visitors as well. The residents are allowed to live outside the centre for 48 hours.

Transportation There is no public transport available directly from the centre to the major towns of Cyprus (and vice versa). Residents are advised to wait for the bus at a point on the road, approximately 200m away from the centre. Otherwise they have to walk till the village’s centre which is about 3 km away. Residents are requested to declare in advance that they would like travel to a city. On such cases, the regular

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OF CYPRUS

MINISTRY OF INTERIOR ASYLUM SERVICE

EUROPEAN COMMISSION EUROPEAN REFUGEE FUND


busses covering the 'Limassol-Nicosia route' are called and alerted by the centre's personnel to come outside of the centre. In case of illness or children’s travel a taxi is called to transport to a doctor or hospital, or to the centre of Kofinou village. Asylum Service covers the expenses.

Food The food is delivered by a local catering service in accordance with dietary wishes/needs of the residents. In general, circumstances are clean and up to standard. Administrative officer has also the responsibility to check daily the quality of food cooked and served. A collective kitchen is also exists, offering the opportunity for the residents to cook for themselves.

Staff The centre operates on 24 hour basis with six institutional officers, two cleaners and one ground man. Stuff has participated to a number of training programmes about multicultural approach and administrative procedures.

Project’s goals and objectives The project started after a request for proposals to improve the living conditions at Kofinou Asylum Reception Centre. The University of Nicosia – Social Work Programme proposed the operational transformation of the Centre adopting modern principles of organisational management, parallel to the provision of comprehensive social welfare support. It is believed that both residents and staff active participation could provide opportunities for those involved to investigate

possible

individual

and

organisational

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OF CYPRUS

MINISTRY OF INTERIOR ASYLUM SERVICE

EUROPEAN COMMISSION EUROPEAN REFUGEE FUND


transformation over time. The main objectives included: 

Provision of social and psychological welfare support for the temporary residents of Centre.

Provision

of

organisational

and

administrative

services along with the co-ordination of Centre’s daily operation 

Provision of office desk and electronic equipments for the needs of employees who would be employed

Design,

Planning,

and

Performing

recreational

activities

Social welfare and psychological support The necessity of having a divert professionals presence was raised from the time of planning the intervention. From the first days of the project a fulltime social worker was employed, while later on a psychologist was added as parttimer. The team was supported by two more trainees’ social workers for the first six months. It operates six days per week (Monday-Friday 8:30am-8:30pm and Saturday 9:00-14:00) Social Service’s primary role is to help and support the residents at the centre. It offers advice, counseling and psychological support for individuals and families. Once the problems

have

been

identified,

both

residents

and

professionals decide on the next step forward. Individual and group counseling, along with empowerment is also included in the daily agenda. Intensive health care for babies and little children were considered as another priority for the social service. Vaccinations in collaboration with the local health visitor are scheduled in certain time periods and, in particular, when there are new arrivals.

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MINISTRY OF INTERIOR ASYLUM SERVICE

EUROPEAN COMMISSION EUROPEAN REFUGEE FUND


Administration A big part of the available human resources was spent on improving the administration part. A full time administrative officer was employed to assist in this process and coordinate the daily process with the rest of institutional staff. During this period a number of administrative forms were developed regarding authorization of entrance, hygiene inspection, photos’ authorization for media, accommodation handbook, distribution of letters, leaflets, establishment of standard admission procedures etc. Admission involves an explanation of the services offered, house rules and internal situation. Institutional officers will introduce the centre to the residents, while on a later phase (during the first 24 hours) social service’s office will take an initial assessment of their situation. In addition, during this period, the scientific team with the rest of the staff developed the constitution of the centre, where staff obligations and procedures were set. At this stage, it has been given to Asylum Service for further review and negotiation with the Community Voluntary Council. The administrative officer is also responsible for conducting a number of public organisations and Asylum Service for issues related to daily processes. Furthermore, she is responsible to evaluate the quantity and quality of residents’ food. Finally, she is taking part to a number of volunteer activities and develops campaigns to gather stuff from the wider community.

Recreational Activities Αn important aspect of their integration is the recreation activities. It is, actually, considered as Social Service’s second level of intervention. The main purpose is to prepare them to integrate and adjust to the Cypriot society, when they will leave the centre. As part of that, a number of recreational

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OF CYPRUS

MINISTRY OF INTERIOR ASYLUM SERVICE

EUROPEAN COMMISSION EUROPEAN REFUGEE FUND


activities

have

been

organized

in

collaboration

organisations and associations outside the centre.

with As an

example, groups of women visited the cosmetics department of University of Nicosia, as well as other organisations for beauty treatment. Moreover, a number of cultural activities were organized at the centre. In those cases people from the community were invited attempting to integrate both parties into a common civic ground, Furthermore, the residents joined a folklore festival at Kofinou village. Greek language courses are offered from Ministry of Education during the spring months. The staff support and encourage the residents to attend the courses. At the same time Social Service organises children’s groups to keep them busy, so both their guardians can join the classes. Apart

from

designing

and

performing

a

number

of

recreational activities, a number of groups are running such as:

Group Activities The group activities are offered in relation with counselling. When a need for specific activities is identified, a group is set up after examining the availability of the required personnel, and running expenses. The groups are organised by members of staff. Apart from content-related aspects, a regular

occupation

experienced

as

meaningful

and

pleasurable is very important for the residents and helps them to develop self-confidence and stability. Women’s Group The purpose of running a women’s group is to support psychological stabilisation, raise the female residents’ selfconfidence

and

promote

empowerment.

The

regular

meetings of this group provide an opportunity for discussing issues,

such

as

health,

nutrition,

child

rearing,

differences/similarities of various cultures and exchanging

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OF CYPRUS

MINISTRY OF INTERIOR ASYLUM SERVICE

EUROPEAN COMMISSION EUROPEAN REFUGEE FUND


experiences.

Projects for Children and Young People Many children and young people living at Kofinou centre suffer from the impact of experiences made in their home country or during their flight. They had to experience various losses, such as the death or disappearance of family members or friends and have to come to terms with an unfamiliar culture and a new language. Moreover, the long duration of the asylum procedure means that the children may stay at the centre, in some cases, for several years. In order to support them, the centre is running a number of small projects, starting from entertainment, various creative activities to schools’ support. For the latter, there is a constant communication with the schools they attend, while it is promoted, at least once per semester a class visit at the centre. All classmates have the chance to see where they stay and any problems they may face. So far, after such visits the results are very positive as the students are becoming more friendly to cultural differences.

Cooperation

Asylum Service, Social Welfare Services, Immigration Office,

partners,

Hospitals, Public Mental Health Services, Future Worlds

networkers:

Center (NGO), University of Nicosia

Number of

(4 scientific committee), 3 employed, 20 volunteers

employed and voluntary people:

Duration of the

31/12/2007 – 31/12/2008. The intention is to continue

project/

working with the specific project, but waiting for the new call

activity/programme: for proposals to get the necessary funding to continue this project the following years.

Results and

A number of unacceptable conditions and behaviors (both

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MINISTRY OF INTERIOR ASYLUM SERVICE

EUROPEAN COMMISSION EUROPEAN REFUGEE FUND


conclusions

from residents and institutional staff) have been improved.

(up to now):

The

living

characterized

conditions as

have

adequate

been by

improved

internal

and

and

are

external

examiners. Currently a research to evaluate the living conditions, staff and provisions of accommodation is undertaken. The fact that there are only 25 people (beginning of November), most of them structured in families, and the high presence of supported staff could resolve prejudices very fast.

Financed by:

The project is running under a European initiative. 75% is funded by European Refugee Fund and 25% by Republic of Cyprus.

Stefanos Spaneas

Contact:

University of Nicosia Department of Social Sciences/Social Work Programme Street: 46, Makedonitissas Ave

City: Nicosia,1700 P.O. Box 24005

Phone: 00357 22 461566 ext.216

Fax: 00357 22 357665

Email: spaneas.s@unic.ac.cy

.

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MINISTRY OF INTERIOR ASYLUM SERVICE

EUROPEAN COMMISSION EUROPEAN REFUGEE FUND

report progress  

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