A friendly face for those on the streets

«A pat on the back, a friendly gesture, the feeling there are people around who really care. That is what we do in our work,» said social worker Panayiotis Adam, a «street worker» for the Help Center. «The street worker group aims to act as a bridge, a link between the addicts on the street and the Help Center. Our group, which includes ex-addicts, tries to create a relationship of trust with addicts, based on understanding, honesty, respect and acceptance of the choices made by those who are not yet ready to move away from dependency.» After five years of continuous work, the street worker group is a familiar sight around the places frequented by addicts and by police. This was not always the case. There were occasions in the past when police rounded up members of the group, along with the addicts, to «verify their identity.» «We are always on the lookout for new areas where addicts hang out. The action has a tendency to move around, because of police raids, local residents up in arms, so they move from one place to another, from one time of day to another,» he said. Adam explained that when the group started out, they were very concerned about providing as many material services as possible to meet their needs. «It wasn’t long before we realized that the most important thing in approaching them was developing a sincere, friendly, warm relationship,» he said. «At the same time, we are trying to work with the police, shop owners and local residents to win their recognition, trust and support.»

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