Apokoronas Council takes over food distribution – a friendly parting of the ways

From the Steering Group of Χείρα Βοηθείας

The Municipality of Apokoronas is in the process of establishing an umbrella organisation to provide support for those in need in Apokoronas. Χείρα Βοηθείας was invited to join this organisation which is called the “Social Supermarket of the Social Services Enterprise of the Municipality of Apokoronas”. Member organisations are the Social Services Enterprise, the Cultural Associations, the Voithia Sto Spiti Programme of the Municipality and the Agia Sophia Foundation.

Χείρα Βοηθείας was offered a seat on the organisation’s Operation Committee.

The intention of the new organisation is to take funding from ESPA – the Community Social Fund of the European Union. Also available to it will be EU food surpluses, usually disbursed three times per year.

Other sources of the food needed, include the large supermarkets and enterprises in Apokoronas and Chania Area. Official EU documents make it clear this programme is for “citizens of the Union”.

The establishment of a Social Supermarket also involves EU legal requirements, with regard to the recording of all donations of food and the names of those receiving support and a list of the items they receive each month. These records will be audited at the end of each month by the Operation Committee. Criteria of entitlement – a checklist of documentary evidence each recipient must provide to the Municipal Authority – have been introduced.

 

The Steering Group of Χείρα Βοηθείας has voiced its concerns about the possibility that the Social Supermarket Programme may not reach non-EU Citizens and their families who are in need of support.

Similarly, we are concerned that the bureaucratic demands, imposed by the EU on the operators of the Social Supermarket, may distort the humanitarian nature of the effort. Χείρα Βοηθείας has always viewed criteria of entitlement as potential obstacles to people getting the support they need.

Despite assurances that none of the EU Regulations will be allowed to prevent any resident in Apokoronas who is in need from getting support, it remains a concern.

The Municipal Authority has shown great enthusiasm for the Social Supermarket Programme. Already 800 families have expressed an interest in receiving a food bag on a monthly basis. Considering that, at Christmas 2014, Χείρα Βοηθείας prepared 308 Food Bags for distribution, this represents a significant development. Finance and supplies of foodstuffs, both fresh and non-perishable, have been secured.

The Operating Committee responsible for the smooth-running of the Social Supermarket is in place. It will verify the eligibility of those receiving a food bag, monitor the goods received and the goods distributed to each person and be responsible for auditing the Social Supermarket’s income and expenditure.

After a great deal of thought and despite several hours spent in meetings over the last 3 weeks with the Council and the Agia Sofia Foundation in an attempt to solve our differences, it is with some reluctance that the Steering Group has concluded that the full commitment of the Χείρα Βοηθείας Somateio is not required by the Municipality’s Social Supermarket Programme. Nor do we require membership of its Operating Committee.

For the sake of all those in need in Apokoronas, we sincerely wish the Mayor and all those involved in the Social Supermarket every success in building on the very firm foundations which Χείρα Βοηθείας and its friends and supporters have laid.

We are pleased to offer our support and encouragement to make it a success. As a small gesture of our goodwill, we propose to donate to the Social Supermarket, to support the January Distribution, the food collected through the Red Boxes before they were withdrawn

We will do all we can to promote the Social Supermarket’s Programme for Food Donors / ΓΙΝΕ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΥ ΤΡΟΦΟ-ΔΟΤΗΣ and look forward to publicising and encouraging participation in the fund-raising events being planned.

We are sure that individuals in the English-speaking community will do all they can to help. As an organisation we wish to conclude this phase of our work and part company with the Municipal Authority on the most friendly terms.

 

We are tremendously grateful to all those who have supported our Food Bag Programme over the last nearly 3 years with their money, their donations of food, their time and their energies. All those who have been involved in the Food Bag Programme of Χείρα Βοηθείας at any stage, or indeed throughout, can feel a great sense of satisfaction with what they have helped to achieve.

The main focus of our work needs to be elsewhere. On January 20th 2015, the General Assembly of Χείρα Βοηθείας will meet to discuss the future direction of the organisation and explore new projects that can build on our work and experience, and consolidate the broad support we have across the communities of the Municipality, so that Χείρα Βοηθείας can continue to make a significant contribution to supporting all those in need in Apokoronas.

 

The Steering Group of Χείρα Βοηθείας

 

Contact :  Pete Sheppard      28250 51531     6943683064    email:  xeiraboetheias@yahoo.gr

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