Barcelona’s Social Emergency Centre to expand
Additional funds to be made available from the City Council to tackle elderly vulnerability and homelessness. The organisation’s headquarters will also move from its current location in the outskirts of Barcelona to a building over five times the size in the neighbourhood of Poble Nou.
Barcelona (ACN). - Barcelona\u2019s Centre of Social Emergency (CUESB) has had its annual budget doubled and its responsibilities increased by the Catalan capital\u2019s City Council. The organisation\u2019s headquarters will also move from its current location in the outskirts of Barcelona to a building over five times the size in the neighbourhood of Poble Nou. The new centre will have space to house up to 100 homeless people or numerous families displaced by emergencies such as fire.
The centre will now receive \u20AC4 million in annual funding, up from \u20AC2 million in previous years. In addition to this, Barcelona City Council has committed another \u20AC2 million to upgrade the new building in Poble Nou and to fit it out as necessary. The building, a former factory, will be equipped with rooms specially designed to house displaced families, as well as a laundry, living room, storage space and an area dedicated to the provision of healthcare.
The announcement is good news for the centre, which currently employs 51 people. Last year, 12,467 people availed of CUESB\u2019s services, 9,600 of whom used the organisation\u2019s phone helpline. Almost 2,500 home visits were paid to people who had suffered accidents in their homes, while 133 people who had been evicted from apartments Barcelona also called in to CUESB. During 2011, 407 people in distressed circumstances were also granted financial aid from the centre.
CUESB aids Barcelona residents who have found themselves \u2018in a hole\u2019, due to being permanently homeless because of reasons related to social exclusion, or being temporarily homeless because flooding, fire, prolonged power cuts and even excessively cold temperatures in their homes. The centre is designed to provide vital support to the victims of such incidents, as well as a variety of other emergencies, such as physical and psychological trauma, sexual exploitation, helping abandoned children and elderly people and the homeless. CUESB\u2019s services are seen as the \u2018front-line\u2019 of dealing with such situations in Barcelona, and the centre operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year. People availing of CUESB services are then usually referred on to the care of social services as soon as possible. The organisation also plays a vital role in helping Barcelona\u2019s homeless. Last year, 600 fines issued to homeless people for breaking local by-laws were withdrawn after the individuals co-operated with CUESB\u2019s efforts to help them.
Additional improvements designed to help improve the work of CUESB have also been announced. A large command centre will be based at the new Poble Nou site, with the aim of being able to provide a mobile centre of support to the scene of any potential disaster in Barcelona. An agreement to provide lots of affordable food to those in desperate need has also been struck with local supermarkets, and CUESB staff will also be equipped with new vehicles fitted with GPS navigation units and radio communication.