In August we decided to focus on short-term, essential aid. Covid has had a huge impact on the people we are supporting and how we support them. We were doing more and more things to fill the gaps and it was getting harder for volunteers to help.
Over the last 6 months we have seen a steady increase in the number of people asking for food. State support has always been inadequate and hard to access but changes to the process and a painfully slow bureaucracy means it can take months for any cash to come through.
We set ourselves up so that we could take quick decisions and make big changes. This way of working has enabled us to launch innovative services, move to new refugee camps, respond immediately to crises, set up bases in new countries, do something completely different and create whole new enterprises.
But none of these changes were easy decisions. When there are limited resources there are inevitably winners and losers. And so it was in Cyprus.
Our decision to focus on essentials unfortunately meant the end of showers, laundry, bike repair, hygiene packs, emergency food bags, language and computer classes, cv writing and Refumade. Some of these will be taken on by partners we are now talking to.
We can have a bigger impact at the Dignity Centre in Cyprus by doing fewer things really well.
We began making the changes on 31 August.Signposting, photocopying, internet access were things we could continue from our reception desk. Barbering is a highly valued weekly event that has remained.
The biggest change was creating and opening the Dignity Market with highly dignified systems to manage supply and demand. We did that in just one week.
In its first 5 days of operation, we registered 163 to use the Market and offered 83 asylum seekers with no recourse to public funds the ability to choose a basket of goods.
Now read Dignity Market Part 2 to see who it is for and how we distribute food to a large group of hungry people in a dignified way.