Situation Before the Initiative Began
The Puente de Vallecas district was seriously affected by drug problems in the 1980s: de-structured families and neighbourhood insecurity were some of the consequences that the district had to face,together with major stigmatisation. The lack of specific educational and social resources worsened the situation for local people arriving as a result of internal migration.
Establishment of Priorities
The priorities focused on education, with the launch of fan educational-compensation Project proposed and supported by the then Ministry of Education, and on social issues through street education, an initiative supported by the Puente deVallecas Distruct Council, to detect any needs mostly affecting local young people, especially those with drug problems.
Formulation of Objectives And Strategies
The Act of Incorporation in February 1986 included approval of the articles of association setting out the aims of entity. In subsequent amendments, approved by the members’ assembly, the association’s aims were defined as including:
- Foster social participation by disadvantaged young men and women,
- Implement social-integration and employment projects targeted at disadvantaged people,with individual route maps covering the development of personal matters,professional qualifications and access to employment.
- Strengthen social-economy initiatives by promoting the setting-up of insertion companies.
- Intervene as a priority with women experiencing social difficulties, by promoting equality between men and women and creating a specific women’s department for the purpose.
- Participate in networks working to combat social exclusion.
Mobilisation of Resources
The diversification and complementary nature of the resources and funding agents has been key for our entity to be able to implement the project locally.
Resources have been mobilised via subsidies from the Spanish Government(Ministry of Health and Social Policy, Ministry of Education, and Ministry ofEmployment and Immigration), the Madrid Regional Government (Department ofEmployment and Women, Department of Health and Social Policy, Department and Family and Social Affairs, Department of Education, Department of Immigration)and the Madrid City Council (Department of Family and Social Services, andDepartment of Economy and Public Participation).
Funding has also been secured from foundations and social organisations of several savings banks (La Caixa,Caja Madrid, Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo).
Networking has made it possible to obtain technical resources to develop the initiatives.Examples include the setting up of the Desmárcate marketing enterprise; General Inclusion (promoted by the Madrid Insertion Enterprises Association to open upa market for insertion enterprises’ products and services — www.desmarcate.org); and the launch of the employment-insertion project for students of social-guarantee programmes(promoted by various social entities).
The experience was launched at a time of great concern and awareness among different people, groups and associations living or working in areas with serious social problems, where children, teenagers and young people are the most vulnerable. In parallel, the public authorities began to consider social policy in a more global, compensatory way, which enabled various action programmes to be implemented.
The group of professionals (teachers, educationalists and educators)involved with the neighbourhood who set up the association aim to respond to problems as they arise, devising short-term strategies for compensatory education and street education. Solutions are sought for the problems by networking, with everyone contributing their own experience.
In the late 1990s the Association diversified its areas of action (drug addiction, training and social insertion, intervention with young women) and grew to a size that made it necessary to undertake long-term plans, review its organisational structure and prepare the entity to define its mission and vision.
A period of transition began, when major organisational shortfalls were detected and a lack of consensus regarding the mission of the education project, as well as a longer view, so “experts” were brought in to provide the training and guidance. Finally, a team was set up to lead the entity directly,drawing up the first four-year strategic plan to cover the entity’s organisational structure and review the association and education projects.
In 2007, having assessed the results of the first strategic plan and detected deficiencies, the entity opted to undertake a new in-depth systematisation, Retailing each of the areas to be programmed and assessed. An in-house planning, programming and assessment system was put in place,affecting not only “educational” matters. Since then, funding, general organisation, potential alliances and possible strategies have also been considered as areas that must give results and are susceptible to improvement.
Process management has subsequently been implemented, adapting the systematisation by areas to systematisation by processes, and that is where weare today.
Over 23 years of working to improve living conditions for young women and men in Vallecas, the following improvements have been achieved in the neighbourhood:
- Meeting spaces, El Local Day Centre, and participation activities for young people promoted by LaKalle: participation in community activities (carnival, young children’s day, intercultural week) and organisation by the young people of activities for the neighbourhood, e.g. House of Horror, Batukada School.
- Setting-up of and participation in the Vallecas Children & Youth Free Time Coordination Unit, which brings together 23 social entities working with local children and young people, focusing particularly on groups in socially disadvantaged situations.
- Team of street educators applying a proven methodology and with over 20 years’ experience.
- Training resource in the carpentry/cabinetmaking trade, offering 60 places a year for socially disadvantaged people.
- Training resource in the retail/distribution trade, offering 60 places a year for women and immigrants.
- Management of Initial Professional Qualification Programmes of the state education system, for carpentry and IT, offering 30 places a year for young people aged 16–21without a school leaver’s certificate.
- Generation of employment and wealth through the insertion enterprise. Since it was set up, 40workers have been hired (63% of them socially disadvantaged)
- Careers and self-employment guidance service, helping 275 unemployed and socially disadvantaged people a year.
- Support for self-employment initiatives by young people’s groups (including Arka Cooperative, Barbol Cooperative, El Vellón and Serikas).
- Support for the launch of the “Needles Textile Workshop”, an enterprise set up by a group of local women in the framework of an insertion/employment programme, with people receiving the minimum insertion income.
With our experience as a social entity we have participated in and contributed towards the approval of new regulatory frameworks to combat exclusion (employment, social and economic), creating new instruments as part of proactive policies. Social entities have become involved as actors in the setting-up of social enterprises with the primary goal of providing access to employment for people who are rejected by the ordinary labour market. This has led to the creation of networks of social entities that insertion entities promote on a local, regional, national and European scale.
The preparation of social reports as an instrument of transparency for the various actors with whom we are involved: authorities, social entities, insertion enterprises, clients and society in general
-It is important for social entities to be well consolidated locally, establishing methods and levels of relationships and collaboration with other entities to develop joint strategies, policy proposals and methodologies and dialogue with local, regional and national political leaders.
- As entities we must apply the relevant strategies in each case to defend an integrated vision and practice that addresses different aspects of the lives of the people with whom we work: employment, training, leisure and free time, intercultural, gender issues, etc.
-The diversification and complementary nature of funds and funding agents has been key for the development of our entity’s project on a local scale.
-We have come to realise the importance of training, the support of expert advisers, etc. to equip our entity with an organisation, planning and assessment system to respond to society’s challenges and demands, and as a strategic investment in order not to lose sight of consistency in the development of our mission, vision and values.
- Over these 20 years we have felt and experienced how the authorities have to some extent instrumentalised us from the beginning, before moving on to the institutionalisation and bureaucratisation of how we operate. This has occurred in the case of many programmes to benefit young people at social risk, and more specifically in the field of prevention, where the figure of the street educator has virtually disappeared.
Submitting an entry for the Dubai International Awards has been an interesting experience for us, when showing our collective journey of more than 20 years. This opportunity has been worth it, inasmuch as it has enabled us to compile aspects of a local experience that could prove to be of use elsewhere.
We relieve that one strong, central, transferrable aspect of our experience worth underlining is the importance of the local and the role of “small” social entities (remembering the concept of “small is beautiful””) when it comes to making a contribution towards achieving a transformation (in a neighbourhood,in people or in a community). Social networks also play a very important role at every level, from the local to the international. And, finally, if as social entities we remain faithful and open to our local circumstances, we can contribute towards the design of social policies and proposals that get to the roots of problems and provide people with made-to-measure solutions. We are living at a time when the role of NGOs is being marketed from certain policies and economic interests, and we believe that it is important for experiences such as ours to become more widely known and come into contact with other realities and experiences.
Next year, in 2011, LaKalle will be celebrating its 25th anniversary, and Dubai has given us an opportunity to contribute our humble experience, which we hope can Spreads, especially next year, to entities and institutions in similar local or regional circumstances to ours, or even — and why not? — Internationally
The educational-compensation classrooms that are now part of the state education system began in Vallecas as an experimental programme by the Ministry of Education in partnership with social entities such as La Kalle.
La Kalle was a Pioneer in the street-education methodology, working with the district council to implement the programme in four neighbourhoods. Over time, the figure of the street educator was incorporated into the local social services’ prevention programmes.
Together with other entities in Madrid with whom we developed social-guarantee programmes, a South-East Madrid Social Entities Platform was set up, opening a process of negotiation with the Ministry of Education to improve resources and recognise these programmes to combat poor performance at school by young people at risk of social exclusion.
The regional Family Department, in the Framework of the IMI programmes, fostered the setting-up of insertion enterprises by social entities such as La Kalle, which set up Iroko S.L Mobiliario y Montajes in 1994. The entities came together as the Madrid Insertion Enterprises Association, achieving the approval by the regional government of Decree 32/2003, which regulates insertion enterprises and establishes development measures for their activities. Subsequently, Act No. 44/2007 was also approved, to regulate insertion enterprises nationally.