In Greece, losing a job often means losing a home

Redundancy and homelessness are grim legacies of austerity measures

Athens

Twenty-seven-year-old Markos has been living on the streets of Athens after the bakery where he worked was forced to close down seven months ago, leaving him jobless.

“I couldn’t find work, so soon I found myself unable to pay for my rent,” he says.

Markos sits in the shade of a tree near a supermarket on Kanari Street, in the capital’s affluent Kolonaki area. He holds a paper sign that reads “homeless” in Greek and an empty plastic cup with a few coins he has collected during the day. He says he survives by selling drawings, and on the charity of passers-by.

“There’s no hope, everything looks black for me now,” he says.

Markos is one of the scores of victims of Greece’s financial crisis which began in 2009.

Amid austerity measures,  joblessness has soared. Unemployment stands at a record high of 27 per cent, and youth unemployment (under 25) at 62.5 per cent. The EU’s statistical authority said yesterday that Greece has the highest jobless rate across the 27-nation bloc. Analysts estimate that since the start of the crisis 700 to 1,000 Greeks have been losing their jobs daily. Meanwhile, unemployment benefits are only handed out for a year in Greece, so most jobless are left without any state help. Of an estimated 1.3 million unemployed Greeks, some 225,000 are receiving handouts.  Unemployment has led to a worrying rise in homelessness. According to a study conducted by Klimaka, a non-governmental organisation, six out of 10 homeless lost their home in the past two years. Forty-seven per cent of those have children.

The stringent austerity measures that have been imposed by the country’s international lenders in exchange for over €200bn (£170bn) in bailout loans have compounded the country’s deep recession.

But it is the traditionally strong family ties which Greece prides itself on that keep many unemployed off the streets.

Unlike Markos, who lost his only relative a year ago, Stavros Papakostas, a 37-year-old unemployed doctor, was forced to give up his flat and move back in with his parents after he was unable to find a job when he completed his speciality training in radiology.

“Family is very important in Greece and relatives still help,” he says. “It’s what saves Greece at the moment – things could be far worse.” Because of the crisis both state and private hospitals are no longer hiring, he explains. Dr Papakostas says the dire situation is forcing him to look for jobs abroad.

Recruitment companies are advising Greeks to eye Scandinavian countries for work. Vasso Polihronopoulou, 37, was fired from her job in human resources last week.

She says the American multinational that employed her considered her monthly €900 (£769) salary to be too expensive. They have outsourced her role to India, where wages are cheaper.

“I’m a victim of globalisation,” she says. “What am I going to do? Where am I going to find work now?” She says the crisis is also deterring Greeks from having families. “I’d love to have a family but what will my kids be eating? Unless my parents look after them.”

She says two of her friends were forced to ask their parents for help to care for their baby when they were both left jobless last year.

But Ms Polihronopoulou remains optimistic. “I’ll find a job eventually; the ones with the serious problem are the country’s graduates who have little experience,” she says.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Partner Manager - EMEA

£50000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Partner Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Regional Sales Manager - OTE £100,000

£45000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Regional Sales Manager is re...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The company provides IT support...

Recruitment Genius: IT Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This manager is for a successfu...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific