By Cathal McNaughton
Time is running out for Natassa Papakonstantinou – by August she could be homeless.
What becomes depressingly apparent as we sit in her tastefully decorated apartment in a middle class suburb of Athens, is that there is no plan B. Last August, 43-year-old Natassa was finally laid off from her job in telecommunications – she hadn’t been paid a penny for the previous six months so she had been living off her savings and hoping for the best.
She was made redundant and now gets by on 461 euros she gets each month in state benefits plus what little is left of her dwindling savings. By August she has calculated that she will be penniless and, with no money to pay her rent, she could be homeless.
She told me that every day she spends up to six hours trawling the internet for job opportunities and applies for any job she can find – she gets few replies. “I sit in my office for hours on end looking for work. I rarely go out and I am nearly always on my own.”
She has tried everything – even recruitment agencies that specialize in jobs in Australia – but she says they exploited her. “They took hundreds of euros from me for administration fees and then said I wasn’t eligible to work in Australia as I don’t score enough points for a visa. They said I could pay more money and apply again.”