Following a successful period of running our OADW free shop in its location close to Vial, we decided to combine our operations and run our warehouse and shop from within the same building. This was due to the changing suitation on the island, particularly the reduced number of refugees and asylum seekers passing through Chios. Thanks to a monumental effort from our small team of volunteers on the ground, it only took a few days to transfer our OADW to its new location in our warehouse. 

Our first distribution from this new location began in January 2022. We created a welcoming and friendly space, to give people as normal a shopping experience as possible. Within this space we have rails full of clothes of all sizes, including jackets, jumpers, joggers, t-shirts, underwear, hats, scarves, gloves, and shoes, to name just a few items. Besides that, we also stock a range of hygiene items for men, women, children, and babies, as well as assorted items like toys, notebooks, water bottles, and many more.

Once we served everyone on the island from this new shop, we realised that, based on our stock levels, we needed to separate our distribution between new arrivals and those who had already shopped. This was to make sure that new arrivals, who are the most in need of our services, could take essential items, like warm jackets and shoes. For the second round of distributions, we created two shops – one for new arrivals in what we affectionately call the ‘plastic shop’) because of the plastic awnings, and one for those who had already shopped.

As ever, the background of the Covid-19 pandemic complicated the situation. Government regulations (which have now been lifted) established that as of March 2022, people need to provide proof of vaccination or a negative covid-test to enter shops. Unfortunately, as many refugees and asylum seekers are unvaccinated, they were not allowed to come to our OADW to shop. We therefore had to adapt quickly and establish a mobile distribution to take place outside, next to Vial, so that those who are unvaccinated can still receive our items. For this distribution we created packs of varying sizes, as well as a wide range of hygiene items and warm winter accessories like blankets, sleeping bags, hats, scarves, and gloves. To give women a safe space to shop, as well as to ensure that our car stock is gender-appropriate, we run mobile distributions for men and women on separate days. To operate this mobile distribution, we make appointments by phone, restock the van and the car, drive to Vial, and set up our mobile shop, where people arrive at their specified appointment time. The rest of our team remains at the warehouse to serve people who come to our shop. Including the Local’s Shop, this means that we are running 4 difference ‘shops’ or distributions – not bad for a team of 10 volunteers!


During our winter distribution 2020/21 we faced many challenges. As in other countries, the rules and regulations concerning the Covid-19 pandemic kept changing here in Greece as well. Although at the beginning of the winter distribution the OADW operated as usual, we soon had to pause our operations due to a strict lockdown in Vial Camp.

In order to continue the distribution throughout the lockdown, we undertook apartment distributions. This was carried out by visiting self-funded apartments, assessing the sizes of those living there, preparing packs at the warehouse and delivering them. We were able to distribute to 620 people in four weeks.

With the announcement from the Greek Government that people could only shop for clothes via the new click away system, we quickly decided to take the OADW online, in order to serve the more than a thousand people in Vial who were still in need of warm winter clothing.

In the OA Click Away From the refugees and asylum seekers could decide on the items they wished to receive, as well as say what their size, colour and style preferences were.  Each person was then given a time and a date when their pack was available to pick up from outside our distribution warehouse.

In three weeks we distriubted to 839 people.


Over a period of 10 weeks we were able to distribute 95789 summer items to 4655 asylum seekers and refugees living in Chios.

The team, of 30 different volunteers, worked tirelessly to ensure that the service provided at the OADW were to the highest standard and that the experience for our shoppers was pleasant. 

This was to this point the biggest distribution ever carried out by Offene Arme, and to have achieved this while in a global pandemic – which restricted the travel of volunteers – resulting in a small team on the ground – is no small feat.

The Offene Arme e.V. Distribution Warehouse was founded as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic which began in early 2020. We identified the need for a large distribution of non-food items to residents of Vial as well as those living in apartments. Due to restrictions placed on the movement of people and access to the camp, we had to provide a location that was outside of the camp. 

We acquired a space located between the Vial Reception and Identification centre and Chios Town, and set it up as a free shop. The aim of this project is to ensure that high quality items are distributed in a fair, dignified manner. Each visitor to the shop is able to take a certain number of clothing items, depending on their age and gender, as well as guaranteed extras such as hygiene items, nappies and blankets.