The non-profit organization Ithaca was founded in 2015 and is active in the field of providing services and support to the homeless and other vulnerable groups. Ithaca operates Europe’s first mobile laundry unit for the homeless and offers reintegration services to reduce the social exclusion of the homeless. Until today, Ithaca has helped over 8,000 people.
Ithaca activity focuses on addressing the complex problems faced by people who are excluded from basic social goods and develops three main axes
Provision of Hygiene Services
The first axe concerns the provision of hygiene services to people living in road conditions or generally unsafe conditions. Ithaca, due to the lack of adequate hygiene services, operates the first mobile laundry in Europe. At the same time, Ithaca has undertaken the operation of the Laundry of the Dormitory at the Multirateral Center for the Homeless of the Municipality of Athens. Finally, it provides interconnection services with other structures to its beneficiaries.
Ithaca, by using the Mobile Laundry as a vehicle, employs people from vulnerable groups with a view to reintegrating into the labor market, as an essential approach to a permanent solution to the target group’s multiple problems. With job counseling, empowerment and liaison programs with companies and organizations, the Ithaca team completes a process of substantive and holistic intervention with the ultimate goal of permanently absorbing the beneficiaries of the program in the labor market.
Awareness raising and Advocacy
The third axe concerns the raising of awareness of both the public and the State about the issue of homelessness. By creating campaigns, networking and statements with each relevant body, Ithaca advocates for improved conditions, services and access for all people to all basic goods.
Ithaca aims to improve living conditions and increase social inclusion through hygiene services, reintegrate vulnerable people into the labor market, raise awareness about the problem of homelessness and poverty.
Ithaca’s vision is for people who belong to the most vulnerable social groups to rediscover their own Ithaca. Increasing social inclusion and reducing social exclusion.
The mobile nature of our services allows us to move wherever and whenever there is a need. In that way, we can approach and serve many people who are often unwilling to leave their spots and go to places that do not have access to sanitation services (e.g. accommodation centers, improvised settlements, squats etc.). This operating model also allows us to keep costs low, as we are exempted from rent and similar operating costs.
When and where?
The Laundry operates in different but stable and distinct points in Attica and Piraeus. Our stable schedule is publicly communicated to the beneficiaries and is adapted to the needs of each service point. This is our schedule.
Since April 2020, Ithaca team operates the washing machines at the Multilateral Center for the Homeless of the Municipality of Athens. This program is implemented on a permanent and daily basis and it is the essential support of the homeless in the new conditions covid-19.
How it works?
Our mobile unit consists of two washing machines and two tumble dryers, while water and electricity are provided free of charge by partner organizations. Each wash lasts about 40′ and drying the clothes another 45′. Beneficiaries deliver their clothes at the start of the shift, where they receive a priority number by which they pick up their clothes at the end of the process. Our employees in the field and volunteers are responsible for the reception and proper service of the beneficiaries as well as for the smooth functioning of the overall operation.
Ithaca was founded in 2015 by three students, Thanos Spiliopoulos, Fanis Tsonas and Andili Rahouti. After watching a similar project in Australia, Thanos, Fanis and Andili decided to create the first mobile laundry for the homeless in Greece and Europe. Their project was catalyzed by being awarded the Angelopoulos CGIU Fellowship in 2015. It was also awarded the Social Impact Award 2015 and the Social Impact Award Entrepreneurship of the European Investment Bank (Social Innovation Tournament 2016). This idea came about in concrete form on April 5, 2016, when Ithaca’s mobile laundry was first launched in the streets of Athens. Since January 2017, the Ithaca team has begun to grow and operate on a day-to-day basis, whereas it created the first job positions for people from vulnerable social groups within the organization. At the moment, the mobile laundry operates in five different spots in Athens and Piraeus, six days a week, while at the same time it tries to expand its range so as to serve as many people as possible.