Stay home – the Municipality of Serres stays at work for you



Policy areas

Organisation name Municipality of Serres

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Contact person: Athina Kokkinidou, Head of EU Programmes and Development Department

The Municipality of Serres, since March 2020, has implemented an innovative service-oriented culture to protect its citizens amid the Covid-19 pandemic. This has accelerated the digital democracy it was already embracing, and launched an integrated set of health, educational and social initiatives addressed to all ages, from children to older people.

The Administration has acted quickly to establish a strong response to the crisis and let people stay at home as much as possible, but without depriving them of essential services. The main measures implemented are a door-to-door food and medicine distribution system, the ‘Assistance at Home’ programme for older people offering a range of certificates that had to be obtained in person otherwise. They also include online appointments, holding virtual meetings (also available on YouTube), supporting the National Health Care System, offering psychological assistance, organising online lessons of any kind for children – not only providing critical interaction.

The most innovative initiatives have been the new feature ‘e-demotis, added to the existing application ‘click ‘n’ spot’, so that more than 4300 certificates requests have been issued online. The pilot operation run by the Ministry of Digital Government has offered online appointment requests at the Municipal Citizens’ Service Centres (KEP). The virtual meetings held by the Municipal Council are also available on YouTube for live and recorded streaming. These innovations have ensured that the pandemic has not imposed a gap between policymakers and citizens, and that transparency and engagement are safeguarded. With the Covid-19 outbreak, a new benchmark has been set for inter-municipal cooperation, aiming at the development of services to facilitate the impact of the crisis that people are facing.

The Municipality of Serres has been showing an unprecedented level of leadership, that in such a context is of utmost importance, promoting so many activities for the protection and the resilience of its citizens. Safeguarding the Municipality of Serres during the pandemic has been a challenging process, however it has succeeded in remaining accountable, efficient and effective in these difficult times. This was mainly by improving digital technology but also adopting an integrated approach to citizen engagement. On an unprecedented scale, the municipality was able to bring together the citizens and facilitate the development of civil engagement in the form of volunteering to assist the community during the stay-at-home order.

Last but not least, the empathy, the motivation and the commitment of the administration employees have been essential in the overall response to the Covid-19 crisis.

The knowledge that has been generated will ensure improved services well beyond the pandemic and a stronger response to future crises – without necessarily creating new services but building on the existing ones. Even though not all crises demand the same response, the exceptional circumstances created by the pandemic have resulted in building preparedness. The acceleration of the digital transformation of public administration for the enhancement of a service-oriented culture is an ongoing project that will ensure efficiency, improve accessibility and strengthen support for an innovative e-democracy.

To protect the citizens and prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the investment in online communications enabled the Municipality of Serres to operate in a timely manner while suspending or limiting physical appearances. More than 4300 certificates have been issued online and more than 1400 people have viewed the City Council meetings.

Regarding the various social actions, 564 beneficiaries of the ‘Assistance at Home’ programme have received 15 792 meals at home and 574 grocery packages. Approximately 210 beneficiaries of the ‘Common Meals’ programme have also benefited from the distribution of meals throughout the municipality (city and villages). From November 2020 to May 2021, 471 pupils attended more than 100 days of online classes offered by the Municipal Centres of Creative Work for Children. Around 1000 people have participated in the training seminars, 55 people (adults and students) have participated in the creative writing sessions, 25 seniors have participated in the ‘University of the 3rd age’ programme and 100 people have participated in the ‘Tale of X Cities’ programme; 450 tablets have been offered to students to help them with homeschooling. Apart from the actions that required registration, a great number of programmes have also been offered online and even though it is hard to measure attendance, the impact on the beneficiaries is beyond doubt.

Despite the economic setback of the Municipal Theatre, the shift from stage to digital resulted in the expansion of creativity and accessibility. It also helped to protect its employees against the economic hardships that people in the arts are facing because of the pandemic.

The Municipality of Serres has participated in the national effort to protect the health of the people and recognised the urgent need for the immediate expansion of the health care system. The municipality donated approximately € 119 000 to the General Hospital of Serres in the form of two fully equipped intensive care units and other medical equipment; the funding came from the cancellation of the 2021 organisation of the annual Christmas Market.

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