A disabled teacher in public schools for special education, Argyro Lambara, who has benefited from the personal assistant (PA) program for people with disabilities met with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the Acropolis Museum on Tuesday.
The prime minister chatted with Argyro and her PA, Alexandra Bekou, about the positive impact of this pilot program in the daily lives of participants and their families, as well as the improvements that could be introduced.
The program "is a personal dream," Mitsotakis said, who added that in the past it was relatives who had to assume the responsibilities of caring fully on a daily basis for members of their family. Argyro noted that the program is "one of the most important ones in modern Greece for people with disabilities" that others were hoping to be able to use as well.
Alexandra said that the training and experience were not difficult to learn. Present at the meeting were Social Cohesion and Family Minister Sofia Zacharaki and Secretary General for Social Solidarity and Fighting Poverty Prodromos Pyrros.
Participants are selected on the basis of a lottery, and PM Mitsotakis said the goal was "to reach a point where we have guaranteed and stable funding for whoever needs a personal assistant."
The program was initially introduced on a pilot basis in Attica Region in April 2022 in a first stage, and applications for the rest of the Greek regions began in May 2023 in a second stage. A total of 1,200 beneficiaries were included in the program in Attica, 20% over the foreseen number. Another 1,250 beneficiaries will be added gradually in the second stage. So far, a total of 1,620 trained PAs have been trained and are listed on a national registry, while another 650 will soon start training.
It is expected that the program will run fully and naturally with NSRF funds in 2025, while the pilot program's funding is included in the Recovery and Resilience Fund.
Beneficiaries must be aged 16-65, and must have been certified as being 67% disabled or more. Once approved, applicants are entered into a lottery and once selected, their case reviewed by interdisciplinary committees. The pilot program vacancies have been oversubscribed by now.