Lighthouse Relief’s psychosocial support programmes are based at Ritsona Refugee Camp, a long-term accommodation centre in central Greece, where asylum seekers wait for several years for their asylum to progress.
The regular routine of sports programming has been hugely beneficial, creating a needed structure for participants, for whom daily life is often characterised by waiting for the next step in asylum proceedings.
Problem to be tackled
Families and individuals in Ritsona Camp experience intense levels of distress – many residents wait years for the interviews and paperwork that will decide their futures. They are prone to feelings of frustration and helplessness. These emotions can be passed on to their children, many of whom have already lived difficult and traumatic experiences in their home countries, during their journeys, and in Greece.
As part of the psychosocial support in Ritsona Refugee Camp, Lighthouse Relief currently runs four programmes:
- the Sports Programme (since 2018), offering several traditional sport activities including football, tennis, badminton, basketball or volleyball and educative sessions using sport as an educative tool,
- the Child Friendly Space (since 2016) as a safe place where children can learn through play and regain a sense of normality in the midst of an emergency; focused on three to five year-old children, who have no other formal or non-formal education opportunities in the camp at this time,
- the Youth Engagement Space as a safe space, drop-in centre, and a creative hub for young adults ages 15+; youth can participate in creative activities (such as music and art workshops), informal learning (through English and other skills-based workshops) or recreational activities such as sports and
- the Resident Volunteer (RV) Programme (since 2018) to work with trained members of the Ritsona Camp community to plan and implement activities.
Beneficiaries of the programme are children, youth and young adults, including vulnerable children, families and single parents, all of whom are asylum seekers residing in the camp. Most attendees are originally from countries including Syria, Afghanistan, Syrian and Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq, Palestine, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo or Cameroon.
The specific age range (five to 14) has been selected for the Sport4Ritsona as there are no other structured activities for psychosocial support dedicated to this group within the camp.
The SOL Foundation and Lighthouse Relief have been partners since 2018. With the continued and additional support of The SOL Foundation, Lighthouse Relief will be able to continue and to grow the sports programme “Sport4Ritsona” with the target to improve the quality of life of children, youth and adults of the Ritsona Refugee Camp through sports.
Lighthouse Relief was founded on the Greek island of Lesvos in September 2015, at a time when thousands of refugees were arriving every day. Lighthouse Relief mobilised quickly to provide structured emergency response to the area, and – when it became apparent that people were remaining stranded for longer periods in mainland Greece – expanded to support vulnerable groups such as children and youth.
Today, Lighthouse Relief is focused on providing psychosocial support in Ritsona Refugee Camp, mainland Greece, and on providing support to refugees and asylum seekers experiencing homelessness in Athens.
Lighthouse Relief’s mission is to provide dignified immediate and long-term relief to those experiencing displacement using a sustainable, participatory approach, that is driven by those they serve. The long-term organisational goals focus on positive, sustainable solutions, and to remain committed to advancing a humanitarian response for as long as it is needed.
Lighthouse Relief is a non-political, non-religious organisation holding the core values including dignity, adaptability and accountability.