City Hall opens stores for the poor

A dual initiative by municipal authorities in Athens aims to provide the capital’s poor with free medicine and clothes. The Welfare Pharmacy and the Athenian Market are scheduled to be up and running in the same building in the capital’s central Varvakeios meat market within the next few weeks. The concept behind the initiative is the same as that which led to the creation of the Welfare Grocery, which offers low-income citizens food and household goods from its base on central Sophocleous Street. The new initiative aims to offer even more support to the same social group. The pharmacy, in its first phase of operation, will select 200 low-income citizens with health problems and offer them free medicines. Its long-term aim, apart from expanding its service to other beneficiaries, is to provide low-income citizens with social security coverage. «We aim to target citizens who are entitled to a social security booklet but do not know it – our experience shows that there are hundreds of individuals like this in Athens,» said Eleftherios Skiadas, Athens’s deputy mayor responsible for social welfare. «We also aim to serve foreign citizens, even illegal immigrants, if their cases are approved by municipal social services staff,» Skiadas added. The Athenian Market will also serve low-income citizens, providing them free clothes. Again the first phase of beneficiaries will be chosen by social services staff and issued coupons that they can use as cash in the store. Already 750 potential beneficiaries have come forward and several businesses have expressed an interest in contributing goods, according to sources at City Hall. Municipal authorities also welcome donations from individuals. All clothes deemed adequate for secondhand use will be laundered and put on the shelves of the Athenian Market, municipal officials said.

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