15 May 2013

Greece: the ‘messy’ reality for young people

As Greece faces yet another strike, Channel 4 News kicks off its Austerity Kids series by hearing from Athens student Tony Rigopoulos about what it’s really like growing up amid the eurozone crisis.

It’s more than three years since Europe’s modern-day Greek tragedy began. But there hasn’t been any kind of dramatic resolution.

Instead, the headlines are disturbingly similar. Just this week, a new tranche of aid payments, to prevent the country from running out of money; ongoing austerity measures, to keep Greece’s European paymasters happy; and more strikes from a suffering and disbelieving population.

And the situation remains bleak. Nearly two-thirds of Greek youths are unemployed and the economy is in its sixth year of recession with little sign of improvement.

The latest strike on Tuesday saw public sector workers walk off their jobs to protest against a government decision to ban a strike by high-school teachers, set for Friday. The government opposes the strike because it could disrupt university entrance exams, but teachers say they have to protest to make sure their voices are heard over transfers, dismissals and increased hours.

Reports from Greece suggested that turnout at a planned rally and march was poor because Greeks feel strikes just aren’t working anymore.

We’re all experiencing the same feeling of extreme and often overwhelming uncertainty for the future. Tony Rigopoulos

With the risk to university entrance exams, the latest strike is just one more indication of how austerity in Greece, and across Europe, is hitting young people.

But what is it really like on the ground for the people who increasingly feel their futures have been stolen by the mistakes of the past? Channel 4 News’s Austerity Kids project is documenting the lives of young people, aged between 15-25, through text, film, pictures and audio. From Greece, 23-year-old Tony Rigopoulos (see his first film clip above) describes how bleak many in his generation feel.

He says: “We’re all queuing in the same unemployment offices. We’re all buying the same job opportunity newspapers. And we’re all experiencing the same feeling of extreme and often overwhelming uncertainty for the future. This is Tony Rigopoulos from messy, messy Athens.”

Get involved in Austerity Kids
Are you aged between 15-25?

Do you live in Spain, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Cyprus, Romania, the UK, Germany or France?

Has your life been hit by austerity Europe? For example, you or someone in your family might have lost your job; you may have had to turn to food banks to help feed your family; or you might have taken part in or even organised anti-austerity protests.

Are you up for telling us your story over the next few months in text, film, pictures and audio?

Get in touch: email us on austeritykids@itn.co.uk, tweet us @austeritykids or with the hashtag #austeritykids, or post on our Facebook or Google+ pages.