Barcelona allocates 6.8 million to families at risk of social exclusion
The Barcelona City Hall has invested 6.8 million euros to the development of social centres that will attend to families with a high risk for social exclusion. The Centre Obert of Sant Martí is an example of the success of social centres.
Barcelona (CNA).- The Barcelona City Hall is allotting 6.8 million euros to services and resources directed to families at risk of social exclusion in 2010. Through the Centres Oberts network, a network of teams that attend children with high social risk, the City Hall hopes to, according to Barcelona\u2019s mayor Jordi Hereu, \u201Coffer the necessary services for the educational and social reinforcement of children\u201D.
Maria is a girl from the Sant Martí district of Barcelona. Every morning, she goes to play, participate in workshops and go on excursions with the Centre Obert and Espai Familiar in her neighbourhood. It is the only completely free of charge municipal space in Barcelona that attends children at high risk of social exclusion, offering them a leisure program but also offering personalised education and family attention. Maria says that she really enjoys going to the space and that she has been doing \u201Ca lot\u201D better this summer. She is curious, chatty and only 6 years old. She has a very close relationship with her counsellor and considers her classmates at the centre to be good friends.
There are some 60 families and 114 children in the centre where Maria goes. For some of them, participating in the centre\u2019s summer leisure activities provides them with a vacation experience that they otherwise could not enjoy because of their families\u2019 lack of economic resources. During the rest of the year, the centre also has educational activities, tutoring and specified programmes to work with their often complicated social environments. On Thursday, Jordi Hereu visited the centre which opened its doors in 2009. The centre can host up to 60 children, and, despite adding 12 new places, they have a waiting list of over 70 applicants in the Sant Martí district alone.
The centre is the only public institution with these characteristics, providing support to families with children and educating children from 0 to 16 years old. The centre also provides needed support in the socio-educational development of the children and teens that many need beyond what they receive at home and school alone. The centre, however, is not unique within Barcelona. The Barcelona City Hall has agreements with similar private spaces in various districts that offer 1,200 children a similar service in exchange for public support. In 2010, the Barcelona City Hall is investing 6.83 million euros in attention services for these children and their families, in which 1 million will be allocated to the Centre Obert and Espai Familiar de Sant Martí. 530,000 euros will go to agreements with the private centres of the city. The bulk of the budget, however, will be used to set up teams dedicated to providing care for children and adolescents at a high social exclusion risk, 4.6 million this year.
For Hereu, the investment demonstrates the \u201Ceffort made by the City Hall to attend to family needs\u201D. The mayor assured that spaces like the Centre Obert of Sant Martí are \u201Ca magnificent example of the services that continue throughout August in Barcelona, because the needs of families continue\u201D. Hereu praised the tasks of the Sant Martí Centre, but he defended the model agreed upon in other districts to collaborate with similar private centres. With this, he puts aside the idea to create new public centres with similar purposes.