Gefyres: The Café in Patras, Greece Fighting Mental Health Stigma and Discrimination

Courtesy of Café Gefyres
Courtesy of Café Gefyres
Photo of Ethel Dilouambaka
15 August 2017

In the harbour town of Patras, where cafés and bars are legion, one stands out: Café Gefyres (Café Bridges) is a unique café with the honourable mission to promote the social reintegration of people suffering from mental illness, giving mental health sufferers a chance to work and reinsert themselves into society.

Gefyres opened its doors in October 2016, a newcomer onto Patras’ café scene created with the financial support of the VINCI Association. Set up with the desire to erase the stigma faced by mental health sufferers daily, the café operates as a workplace for members of the local SOPSI (Patras Association for Mental Health), reinforcing their psycho-social rehabilitation.

Courtesy of Café Gefyres

A beautiful gesture against prejudice, exclusion and other stigmas that comes with living with mental illness, Café Gefyres also has a busy schedule of events and activities. Since its opening, it has held more than 120 events, such as poetry, book and photo exhibitions, and well as music and theatre performances and even kid-friendly activities.

More than a regular café, Gefyres gives its struggling staff hope and a second chance. All this was possible with the hard work of the SOPSI association, which offers free counselling as well as group activities to help its members develop social skills. Many of the café’s workers are thankful for the opportunity and regain self-confidence as they no longer feel sidelined by society, while the customer base proves the success of this initiative.

Courtesy of Café Gefyres

Café Gefyres is also a fantastic example of what can happen when a community gets together and work for the greater good. Since its opening, the café has undergone renovation undertaken by a local architecture bureau, i_ARCHiTECT, and the non-profit organization ArtinProgress contributed to a moss graffiti project in the café’s courtyard.

If you are ever in Patras, make sure to pop by and discover this fascinating place.

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