Municipal authorities and non-governmental organisations in Athens have praised the public’s response to calls for clothing and blankets for the city’s growing homeless population, as freezing temperatures and gale-force winds grip the capital.

The City of Athens and NGOs had pleaded for help as they do not have the resources to look after up to 15,000 homeless people that are estimated to be sleeping on the city’s streets.

“The public’s response has been unprecedented,” Ada Alamanou, a spokesperson for the Klimaka shelter for homeless people, told Kathimerini. Alamanou said that about 50 people drive to Klimaka’s premises in central Athens every day and unload big bags with all kinds of items they can offer: sweaters, hats, jackets, blankets, pillows and bed sheets.

“We have already collected a large amount of blankets and bed linen, which we distribute daily to homeless people and other organizations that are trying to care for them,” Alamanou added.

Klimaka wants to create a network of NGOs that can come together when there is an urgent need for assistance to be provided to homeless people, such as during the current cold snap.

The City of Athens set up the 1960 hotline earlier this month so citizens could report the presence of homeless people, who could then be helped by the municipality’s “street work” team, which distributes clothing, blankets and medicines. It can also transport those sleeping rough to four buildings that have been transformed into temporary shelters for the homeless.

A wave of bad weather hit Greece this week with temperatures reaching -10 Celsius in some parts of the country and the wind gathering strength to reach 9 Beaufort. Snow fell in some parts of Attica. Temperatures in northern Greece remained below zero for the larger part of the week. The gale-force winds forced the cancellation of most ferry services on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.