By Annette Chrysostomou
The number of applications for the bi-communal cooperation awards offered by the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation has quadrupled this year, the organisation said on Wednesday.
By midnight on September 15, the deadline for applying, the number of bi-communal team entries reached 116, surpassing all previous records, the foundation said.
“The new record number is due to the operation of the first bi-communal café located on the corner of Palias Ilektrikis & Eptanisou 57, the excellent promotion and publicity received but also to the positive political climate that has developed on the island over the last months,” the foundation said in statement.
The cafe, which operates once a week on a Tuesday evening, aims at providing a joint space where Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can get together and talk business.
“The remarkable record number of participants confirms that the bi-communal café managed to play a key role in bringing Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots closer, strengthening the element of trust and cooperation between them,” the foundation said.
The café opened a year ago when the foundation purchased the property in Nicosia’s old town. It was established as a meeting and networking point for Greek and Turkish Cypriots while also supporting the awards. During their meetings at the café, participants and aspiring participants of the competition could enjoy free coffee and biscuits.
The charity programme, ‘Food from the heart’ is also located in the same building.
The headquarters of the charity which easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou inherited from his mother is in Limassol and from there, in 2013 the charity programme ‘Food from the heart’ began.
After Nicosia and Limassol, this year the Stelios Foundation is strengthening its activities in support of bi-communal cooperation by purchasing another building located on Ferah Street, north of the Green Line and only 10 minutes walk from Ledra Street. This third property will also operate as a bi-communal café. Additionally, free food will be offered to people in need, under the Food from the Heart programme. The new premises, which is located opposite S. Luke’s church, will be renovated and tt is expected to open in 2016.
The Cyprus awards are in their 7th consecutive year and since 2009 Stelios has given away €1.2 million to 40 bi-communal teams. This year, the prize money is more than ever, €300,000 for 30 bi-communal teams – €10,000 each.
The prize money for the winners will be handed out by Stelios Haji-Ioannou on the October 30 at the foundation’s premises in Nicosia.