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Swedish restaurant and charity to deliver 5,000 meals this Christmas

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Grekiska staff preparing Christmas Eve dinners | Photo: Grekiska
Grekiska's CEO, Zeki Yalcin with volunteers at his restaurant in Södertälje preparing meals to distribute on Christmas Eve

With the Christmas season upon us, families around the globe are preparing to gather around food-laden tables and warm homes to celebrate the year’s end, connect with loved ones, and take time to reflect and relax before the start of a new year.

But this year millions across the world, including in Sweden, will spend Christmas without a roof over their heads, in refugee camps, under freezing tents, or on the sidewalks of streets. And many will remain hungry.

This Christmas, two Sweden-based entities are making sure the homeless, the asylum seekers, the refugees, pensioners, and families with children across Sweden, are not forgotten–and are well fed and taken care of.  

The Stockholm-based Greek restaurant chain, Grekiska Grill & Bar has joined forces with the award-winning international non-profit advocacy and humanitarian aid organization, A Demand for Action (ADFA) which will put its expertise in organizing large distributions to ensure over 6,000 meals across Sweden will reach and be served to those in need. 

The family-owned restaurant, Grekiska, was opened in Södertälje (Sweden) in 1995 by Musa and Zeki Yalcin–Assyrian/Syriac immigrants from Turabdin (Turkey).  By 2002, their passion for sharing with their new countrymen, indoor grilled dishes, featuring a unique blend of Greek delicacies infused with their signature Mesopotamian herbs and spices, evolved into a successful franchise chain. With over 30 restaurants today, Grekiska is Sweden’s largest nationwide Greek restaurant chain.

“I cannot think of anything more beautiful and giving than helping those in need during Christmas. We are thrilled that our food and drink suppliers and franchisers also are on board, and we are of course grateful to ADFA for their collaboration to help make this happen,” Grekiska’s CEO, Zeki Yalcin says he’s excited about the “magic” of it all. “It’s a dream come true for our family and our extended family in our restaurant chain. Everyone is willing to work on their day off–on Christmas Eve–and help out.”

This Christmas Eve, the chain’s five restaurants in Stockholm will prepare and distribute 1,000 meals during the Christmas Eve celebrations at the Swedish Evangelical Mission’s St. Clara’s Church (Klara Church) in the capital city. Grekiska will also distribute an additional 5,000 meals nationwide through its chains.

“We are extremely grateful to receive 1,000 of the portions from Grekiska Grill & Bar for our Christmas celebration at St. Clara Church, catering to the homeless, asylum seekers, refugees, poor pensioners, and families with children in need,” says Father Hans Bratt Hernberg whose parish provides social services year-round. “This contribution to our Christmas celebration brings immense joy and blessing, as we say in the church. Great joy and love to all at Grekiska Grill & Bar and ADFA for providing this for the most vulnerable in Stockholm.”

ADFA’s founder, Nuri Kino, will join volunteers and Grekiska restaurant workers to distribute meals on Christmas Eve.

Two Friends Preserve the True Spirit of Christmas Giving

The idea for Christmas Eve food distribution originated when Zeki Yalcin contacted his old-time friend and fellow native of Turabdin, ADFA’s founder Nuri Kino, and asked if he was staying home in Sweden for Christmas Eve. When Kino, who is often at emergency relief sites around the world, said he was staying home this year, Zeki asked if he would volunteer at his restaurant in Södertälje to distribute meals on Christmas Eve.

“My mind started to spin. Why not have all restaurants open on Christmas Eve?” Kino says he galvanized his organization members to connect with restaurants across Sweden to have all restaurants open and serving food on Christmas Eve–when they’re usually closed. “All volunteer organizations were very happy to participate since the need has spiked in the last few years but couldn’t manage to operate on Christmas Eve at such short notice. So ADFA took the responsibility to manage the Grekiska Grill & Bar and ADFA Christmas Eve operation.”

ADFA and Grekiska will distribute the Christmas Eve meals at additional Grekiska restaurant chains in Norrköping, Enköping, and Örebro across Sweden in collaboration with food suppliers Menigo, and Pepsi MAX.

Simultaneously, ADFA’s volunteers will continue their food and relief distribution activities across various conflict zones in Syria, Lebanon, and Armenia where they remain actively involved.

Jackie Abramian is committed to amplifying the work of women peace-builders, change makers and social entrepreneurs. She is a social enterprise advisor and the founder of Global Cadence consultancy.

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Oceanology International London 2024 to open on March 12th

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Oceanology International London 2024 to open on March 12th
Highlights in 2024 include three days of technical conference content and live on-water Dockside Demonstrations

Leading ocean trade event, Oceanology International London, is set to return to London ExCeL from 12th to 14th March, 2024.

Highlights in 2024 include three days of technical conference content, live on-water Dockside Demonstrations and the return of the premium Catch the Next Wave conference.

Thousands of international industry buyers, influencers and professionals will have the opportunity to visit the Future Tech Hub across all three days of the Oi marine science, ocean technology exhibition and conference to discover the latest technology developments and meet the trailblazing companies who are positioned to empower missions into the next decade and beyond.

David Ince, Oceanology International Portfolio Director, said: “We are pleased to confirm the return of the Future Tech Hub, which proved to be a very popular addition to the show floor when it was introduced in 2022. Recognizing some of the world’s leading start-ups and tech-accelerators who are bringing the future forward, it creates a must-see location with a real buzz. Visitors and attendees can gather here to discover and discuss the latest developments which can help them prepare to meet the demands of the market in the years ahead.”

Amongst the exhibitors already confirmed are Linden Photonics, developer of a range of miniature, high strength optical fiber, hybrid and speciality copper cables; NextOcean, a NOVA University Lisbon flagship project on the Next Generation of Fishing and Aquaculture Services; Robosys, a leading provider of AI-powered maritime autonomy and smart shipping software with its VOYAGER AI software; Heimatland Indonensia Geosolusi, developer of Wadugs (Wave Analyze Data for Underwater Geophysical Survey), a sophisticated software package for geophysicists, geologists and hydrographers.

Oceanology International London is expected to bring 7,500+ attendees and 450+ exhibitors from 80+ countries, with 100+ companies expected to conduct product or service launch activity in 2024.

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Project aiding homeless receives £1.4m research grant

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A homeless person on the street
The three-year project aims to better connect the care system and add creative health approaches such as arts and sports to it. | Photo: Jon Tyson

Researchers working to transform the infrastructure of support available for people experiencing homelessness have been awarded £1.4m from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The three-year project, led by Northumbria University, aims to better connect the care system and expand it to include creative health approaches such as art, crafts, sports, gardening or cooking to provide holistic support tailored to individuals.

At present, support services are not always integrated and often try to address in isolation the issues which can contribute to homelessness – such as abuse, trauma, addiction and mental or physical health challenges.

But in reality, these complex and varied health and social care needs can rarely be treated in isolation, explained Professor Monique Lhussier, one of the lead investigators of the research from Northumbria.

“When available, support for homeless people is often only for a short time, not coordinated with other services and fails to meet all of a person’s needs,” said Professor Lhussier, a social scientist with expertise in marginalisation, welfare and wellbeing.

Fellow lead investigator Dr Christina Cooper, from Northumbria’s Department of Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing, said: “While most services see people who are homeless as having lots of needs, few also see them as people with strengths, talents, resilience, and aspirations. Despite evidence showing the positive impact of creative initiatives, these assets have not typically been considered a core part of support services.”

The project aims to grow the care system, so it includes creative health approaches, with the research informed and guided by people recruited as experts by experience.

“This is about working in direct and equal collaboration with people who have experienced homelessness so that all people can have access to the support they need, when they need it, and in the way they need it,” added Professor Lhussier.

“What we want all support services to be working collectively on is enabling that growth for each individual. To be thinking about people in terms of their future potential rather than as a list of problems that can’t be figured out.”

Driven by six key organisations – Tyne HousingGroundswellAlphabetti TheatreArt GeneChilli Studios and Helix Arts – a network of housing providers, arts organisations and healthcare services from across the North East and Cumbria will participate in the project. The research will also be supported by two regional community interest companies, Media Savvy and Roots and Wings design, making the project highly collaborative and grounded within the kinds of organisations it aims to engage.

The aim is to develop a model which supports the move from siloed working and crisis management to collaborative partnerships for early intervention and prevention. This will inform the development of an evidence-based regional policy for homelessness and a website featuring details of all support services available in one place.

Dr Cooper added: “Bringing together organisations from creative industries and the wider homelessness sector is important because it offers people who need it opportunities to be part of something which supports them to grow, and to reintegrate into society in a positive way. And to shed some of the very negative labels which are often placed on them through no fault of their own.”

Artistic and Executive Director at Alphabetti Theatre, Ali Pritchard, is a Northumbria University graduate and founded the theatre, which is now a registered charity, in 2012 with the belief that the arts should be accessible for all.

He said: “Alphabetti Theatre is now an established community hub in the city of Newcastle which is already engaging with diverse audiences. I’m delighted that we can offer further support to people who need it most by being one of the cultural collaborators on this project.

“We’ve never been afraid to do things differently, while championing the development of performing arts in the region, and recognise how lives can be enriched by opportunities to interact with the creative industries.”

Community Engagement Coordinator at Alphabetti Theatre, Audrey Cook, is taking the lead on the theatre’s contribution to the project. They said: “It is an exciting prospect that arts and culture is included as a necessary tool for improving wellbeing and eliminating stigma. Alphabetti Theatre is a dedicated warm space as well as a vibrant hub for local art and culture for absolutely anyone.

“The inclusion to prioritise exposure to art and creativity within this project alone, contributes to the necessary conversation that art shouldn’t be treated as a luxury. I am eager to see what creative outcomes come in the coming years of this project and I’m endlessly grateful to be apart of it. Not just myself, but all of us here at Alphabetti.”

The research, Making every community asset count: improving health and reducing inequalities for people experiencing homelessness, is part of the third phase of projects funded through the Mobilising Community Assets to Tackle Health Inequalities programme. The UKRI programme is led by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in collaboration with and the National Centre for Creative Health.

It builds on an earlier award of £250,000 which saw Northumbria academics working with Tyne Housing to create a virtual directory of 192 support services for those facing homelessness across the wider region. Both awards have been obtained in collaboration with Newcastle University, building on a longstanding, collaborative relationship between the two organisations.

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London Air Ambulance raises £1.2 million in charity gala

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Prince William giving a speech at the London Air Ambulance charity Gala
Funds raised will be used by the charity towards the replacement of two aging helicopters

A Black and White Gala event in London has raised over £1.2 million for the London Air Ambulance, surpassing all previous galas promoted by the charity. 

The event was attended by a number of VIP guests, including US actor Tom Cruise, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Grammy-award winning band Sister Sledge who performed during the evening. Generous supporters bid for the several money-can’t-buy prizes throughout the auction. 

“As a former pilot for East Anglia Air Ambulance, I know just how vital the work of air ambulance teams across the country is and the truly life-saving difference it can make to deliver urgent medical care wherever injury strikes. Here in London, the current aircraft have served magnificently. But our capital city needs a new fleet. And we are Up Against Time. The clue really is in the appeal’s name. By September, we need the two new red birds – decked with the latest kit such as night vision – in our skies,” said His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, William who attended the evening and met with some of the London Air Ambulance’s medical and operational crew.

VIP attendance: Tom Cruise and Prince William attended the London Air Ambulance charity this week

Funds raised will be used towards the replacement of two aging helicopters, for which the charity needs £15 million.

Also speaking at the gala was Milana Hadji-Touma, both a patient of the service and a member of the gala committee. She said: 

“I am best placed to say that this really can happen to anyone. I wouldn’t wish it to happen to anybody ever. But if it does, we need to make sure London’s Air Ambulance can be there to save their life too. Together, tonight, we can make sure that London’s Air Ambulance Charity is able to give another person that chance.” 

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