Mayor: Chrysa Arapoglou
Kalamaria was formally recognised as an agglomeration of the geographical area of the Municipality of Thessaloniki In 1922. On 01/01/1943 Kalamaria became a separate Municipality, covering an area of 6,500 square meters and a population of 10,500 inhabitants. Today, it covers an area of 7,200 square meters and has a population of 92,248 (2021 census). It is built on the east coast of Thermaikos Gulf and its coastline is 4.5 km long.
Kalamaria began to be inhabited after the Asia Minor catastrophe of 1922 and the forced population exchange based on the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923. At that time the city welcomed about 117,000 refugees. Most of them settled in Kalamaria that hosted mainly refugees of Pontic and Asia Minor origin. As a result, Kalamaria is no stranger to refugees.
Since 2016, the Municipality participates in REACT, the corporate scheme of the Municipality of Thessaloniki, implementing the ESTIA program of temporary accommodation of refugees and asylum seekers. In this context, Kalamaria hosts in rented apartments, people persecuted and unprotected from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc seeking security and protection.
The Municipality shows a great deal of empathy towards all vulnerable population groups, including the refugee and asylum seeker population hosted in Kalamaria. Municipal structures and programmes that are available to all include: the Social Pharmacy, the Social Grocery store, the Municipal Clinic (offering a number of medical specialties such as psychiatrist, neurologist, pediatrician, physician, cardiologist, nursing staff), the municipal soup kitchen, voluntary blood donation, dementia center, etc.
In 2016, the Municipality of Kalamaria launched the “REACT” Program, a Program for Housing and Accommodation of Refugees, under the auspices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Under REACT, the Municipality of Kalamaria made available 60 accommodation places in the municipality. Other bodies taking part in REACT are the Municipality of Thessaloniki, the Region of Central Macedonia, the Hellenic Council for Refugees, ARSIS, YMCA of Thessaloniki and PRAKSIS.
By 2020, the Municipality of Kalamaria increased the accommodation places to 136. The populations hosted under REACT, originated from countries such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran. The vulnerabilities of people and families (serious health problems, large single-parent families, disabilities, etc.) were a determining factor in their eligibility for housing.
The “REACT” Program continues in 2021 under the auspices of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, providing 133 temporary housing units to asylum seekers and refugees. The countries of origin of the beneficiaries of the program remain the same while the number of the Persian-speaking population (Afghanistan, Iran) has increased in the last year.
Throughout the operation of the program, the beneficiaries receive a range of services. In collaboration with services of the Municipality, Non-Governmental Organizations, the network of volunteers and the support of the church, the goal is to improve the living conditions and prosperity of the hosted population.
More specifically, other than the provision of housing, the services and facilities available include support in basic goods, clothing and footwear, medical and psychosocial support, participation in education, participation in integration actions and cultural activities.
For the medical support of the population there is cooperation both with PRAKSIS and with other organizations, such as the Municipal Clinic and Pharmacy, The Smile of the Child and Doctors of the World. The beneficiaries are served by public health structures, but they also have the opportunity to be served by the Municipal Clinic of Kalamaria, where children are vaccinated on a regular basis.
Regarding education, the refugee children participate in all levels of education with the support of the Social Workers, the Training Coordinators, the Principals and the teaching staff of the schools, and receive significant support from volunteer trainers. The local community has embraced the young students, proving the importance of solidarity in improving the daily life of these populations.
In addition, local sports clubs organised sports and leisure activities where refugees also participated, while environmental activities (tree planting, recycling game) and cultural events were also organised, free of charge.
In cooperation with the municipal libraries, the refugee children had the opportunity to participate in group activities and make friends. Finally, host families in collaboration with the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and UNHCR participated in a photography and documentary exhibition.MORE (Greek)
The Community Centre has a complementary role to the Social Service. It was established on 1.8.2017 and the beneficiaries are mainly citizens of the Municipality of Kalamaria. Priority is given to the beneficiaries of the “Minimum Guaranteed Income” Program. Beneficiaries also include individuals or families living in poverty and social exclusion, migrants, disabled, Roma, unemployed, beneficiaries of international protection, asylum seekers, and generally vulnerable groups.MORE (Greek)
The Social Grocery aims to cover primary living needs of the residents of the Municipality and enable their reintegration into the local community.
It provides food, personal hygiene items, clothing and footwear, books, toys, as well as catering services through the “Meal and Care” Program. The distributed products are either funded by the resources of the Municipality, or by donations of citizens and institutions.
Social Grocery has repeatedly provided emergency assistance packages to the beneficiaries of the REACT Program.MORE (Greek)
The Social Pharmacy provides free medicines, sanitary material and parapharmaceutical products, which are funded by the Municipality’s own revenues, but also by donations from citizens and organizations.
It aims at individuals and families, who live within the Municipality of Kalamaria, encounter economic and social difficulties and belong to the following categories: single parents, large families, unemployed, uninsured, disabled and other vulnerable groups.
Beneficiaries of the REACT Program, who are in need of medicines, are supported by the Social Pharmacy on a regular basis.MORE (Greek)
The Municipality of Kalamaria, under its Social Policy, Solidarity and Public Health, with the operation of the Municipal Clinic, develops actions and programs aimed at preventing and promoting health.
The primary purpose of the structure is to meet the needs of primary health care and offer practical assistance to socially vulnerable groups, such as the homeless, the uninsured, the low-income pensioners, the beneficiaries of free medical care and the general public.
The Municipal Clinic is equipped with specialized nursing and medical staff and specifically with a physician, pediatrician, cardiologist, orthopedist, neurologist and psychiatrist. Volunteer doctors also assist in its operation.MORE (Greek)
The Office of Counseling and Psychological Support is addressed to citizens who live within the boundaries of the Municipality of Kalamaria and meet the conditions, as defined by its Rules of Procedure (Board Decision 442/2019).
The Office provides psychological support through individual sessions. The service participates in mental health education programs, organizes awareness-raising workshops and liaise beneficiaries with the appropriate services.MORE (Greek)
The Municipal Blood Bank relies exclusively on voluntary blood donation.
Its members are all citizens and residents of Kalamaria over 18 years old. The Bank is supported by the Blood Donation Department of the General Hospital AHEPA Thessaloniki. For the implementation of blood donations, information and public awareness actions are carried out.MORE (Greek)