Conference of the Observatory in the Regional Unit of Rethymnon for the presentation of its research findings and the recording of local needs in Crete

The Region of Crete successfully organized the conference of the Regional Observatory for Social Inclusion (Observatory) -  which cooperates with the Laboratory of Social Analysis and Applied Social Research (EKAEKE) of the Department of Sociology of the University of Crete -, in the Regional Unit of Rethymnon ("House of Culture" in Rethymnon), with the title, "Research Findings and Recording of Local Needs in Crete", with the active participation of the Directorate of Public Health and Social Care of the R.U. of Rethymnon, of the social services of the Municipalities of Rethymnon and the Community Centers of all the Municipalities of Crete.

Oppening speaches started by the Deputy Regional Governor of the Regional Unit of Rethymnon, Maria Lioni and the Deputy Regional Governor for Social Policy, Lambros Kambourakis. On behalf of the Holy Metropolis of Rethymno and Avlopotamos, f. Georgios Galerakis addressed a warm welcome to the Conference. The importance of evidence and geography of needs through the Observatory were noted for the adoption of appropriate measures for social development in Crete.

According to the recently available data of the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) and the Eurostat (1st research axis), the poverty situation in Crete is still high, affected by the overall decline in standards of living in Greece after 2008, which is sighnificantly lower than the average of the EU- 27. Although Crete is in better levels of poverty than the average of the country, its high rates of material and social deprivation make its position difficult. In the year 2020 there is a further slight increase compared to 2019, due to the pandemic (covid-19). The consumption capacity of households in Crete also decreased significantly between the years 2014 and 2020, becoming increasingly limited to meeting basic needs (food vs. health and residential energy needs). Single-member households, single-parent households and households with three or more children, the elderly and children face a greater risk of poverty. The benefits also show a very low impact on reducing inequalities and poverty in Crete and Greece.

Data from the deprivation pockets (3rd research axis) and the mapping (4th research axis), showed that there is a worsening of extreme poverty conditions on the island ("extreme poverty" for the period 2020-2021), as a consequence of the overall poverty situation in Greece and Crete. The  Regional Unit of Rethymnon shows corresponding deterioration figures in all Municipalities, however, compared to other Regional Units in Crete, it has fewer pockets of deprivation, exclusively rural, in areas south of its geographical territory. Rural enclaves are associated with very high rates of low income, aging, lack of access to services, unskilled work and low level of education. They are also more negatively affected by the absence of social services and population support structures, which is recorded in the respective Municipalities. Individuals and households experiencing extreme conditions of deprivation and poverty, as a whole for Crete, do not seem to adequately cover their needs through the Minimum Income Guaranteed program, such as empowerment, motivation, social, cultural and economic support integration (2nd research axis).

From the participation of the social services, the needs of areas in the Region of Crete were recorded related to the school leakage in areas with large mountainous areas, the lack of accessibility to mental health structures, technological illiteracy and the loneliness of the elderly in remote and mountainous areas, the shrinking of incomes from natural disasters, unemployment of women and people aged 50-55, the disabled, inadequate and lack of housing, poor and uninsured workers, psychosocial support for populations affected by natural disasters, addictions, protection of unaccompanied refugee children, the strengthening of building infrastructure as well as positions for staff and beneficiaries in daycare centers (mainly in large municipalities), domestic violence.

The conference was attended by institutional & official representatives of the Region and the Municipalities of Crete, the Regional Observatories of Social Integration in Greece, the Observatory of Entrepreneurship and Innovation of the General Directorate of Development Planning of the Region of Crete, the Regional Operational Program of Crete (PEP of Crete), the 7th Ministry of Health, the Public Employment Services (DYPA), the University of Crete, the Hellenic Mediterranean University, the Church of Crete, Development, Research & other Agencies.