VERSO

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Study trip to Barcelona

VERSO Project Study Tour in Barcelona March 2013

Representatives from eight European countries take part in a working conference in Barcelona to foster employment through volunteerism

The Department of Social Welfare and Family of the Government of Catalonia and the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) are the two Catalan partners of VERSO Project, that promotes the role of volunteers in the social and work insertion.

The Catalan projects quality on volunteerism and employment subject has awakened the interest of VERSO partners, who wanted to know them of first hand.

Representatives from eight European countries took part in the 4th and 5th March  VERSO Project Study Tour in Barcelona. During the two days conference, representatives and technicians from public administrations and universities knew of first hand several Catalan initiatives considered good practices from entities that foster the employment through the voluntary work.

VERSO Project is funded by the European Fund of Regional Development, UE INTERREG IVC, and the objective is demonstrate how volunteers can help authorities to fight against unemployment and to improve quality of life of people living this situation.

The Department of Social Welfare and Family and UAB are the two Catalan partners. The rest of partners are from Germany, England, Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, Holland and Hungary.

The Social Welfare and Family Minister, Neus Munté, and the UAB Students and Cooperation Vice-Chancellor, Sílvia Carrasco, welcomed the European delegation at the official reception, on Monday 4th.

5 Catalan good practices

Within the framework of this project, a catalog of good practices and recommendations to implement them in several countries and European contexts is being elaborated. The research centers participating in the VERSO Project selected 16 good practices among thirty initiatives shown by the political partners.

In that first step, the Government of Catalonia showed five experiences from Catalan entities and two of them were chosen to become part of the catalog.

During the meeting, the representatives and European technicians knew the two selected Catalan projects of first hand:

  • Opening the door to the rehabilitation is an initiative from Women Rehabilitation Foundation (Ared), with the objective of improving employment of collectives with difficulties in accessing the job market, especially women coming from penitentiary centers. The project methodology allows an integral and individualized intervention for users made by a multidisciplinary human team, formed by professionals and volunteers.
  • Let’s make the integration possible, managed by Volunteers in Entrepreneurial Advising (VAE), is about accompaniment and mentoring in work research and enterprising. This project is addressed to people who need a more proximity advising processes and it’s carried out by some retired manager and executive volunteers willing to share their acquired experience and knowledge and to assume an active role in the civic construction.

The five initiatives shown by the Government of Catalonia obtained a very good score in the appraisal process. Therefore, the project has gathered the rest of candidatures in Barcelona in order to know all of them, even those which finally aren’t part of good practices catalog. They are projects carried out by Exit Foundation, Casal dels Infants and Punt de Referència:

  • Coach Project, managed by Exit Foundation, consists of a work skills training program in which volunteers from several companies accompany and facilitate the first contact with work world to youngsters without referents who suffered school failure. Coaching method establishes a wider vision and more personal and professional development possibilities. This methodology allows the entrepreneurial volunteer and the company to take part in the training of young people in social disadvantage situations, as long as they become positive and motivating referents in the work world.
  • Transition to the Autonomy Service, managed  by Casal dels Infants, offers young people  an access to a social and normalized network and socio economic autonomy, while fostering personal and social capacities. Some users taking part in it are former wards, others without support networks, like young newcomers overcoming administrative formalities that lengthen normalization period. The core focus is by improving relationships social insertion capacities increase, therefore it promotes youngsters’ involvement in other groups (cultural or social entities, working camps abroad, etc...). A coordinated work team of volunteers and professionals allows a continued evolution and a personalized attention to each one of the attended users.
  • Referents Program, implemented by Punt de Referència, offers to ward and former ward youngsters in social exclusion risk a volunteer acting as a referent and backs them up in his/her daily needs. The referents are volunteers aged between 26 and 65 years, willing to accompany a youngster in a long relationship, taking part in the entity group activities during a year and offering emotional, fun, linguistic and social support. Besides, accompaniments in work insertion and in housing search. The program emphasizes the voluntary accompaniment, because, joint to the professional accompaniment, becomes a guarantee of the needed autonomy for youngsters’ emancipation.

 

The Catalan representation to VERSO Project

Catalonia is one of the participant countries in VERSO project and it’s represented by the Department of Social Welfare and Family, through the General Direction of Civic and Community Activities, which it is the political partner. The Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), through the Systematic and Social Pedagogy Department, is the Catalan partner of knowledge.

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Revised 2014.02.21