I recently spoke with Enric Canet, Director of Citizen Relations from the Cultural Centre for Children (Casal dels Infants) about the organisation and the support it gives to children in different localities around the Barcelona area.
SIRIUS: Why was the Casal dels Infants set up?
Very much a grassroots initiative, the organisation was set up in 1983 by a number of neighbours living in the Raval neighbourhood in the centre of Barcelona to fight social exclusion and help children and young people with their educational needs. The area has had immigrants for as long as I can remember. Before 1990, they came predominantly from the south of Spain. By 1995, half of the children in the neighbourhood were Moroccan, and many more had arrived from Pakistan and Latin America. A lot of young people ended up here on their own, as undocumented migrants.
Nowadays, not so many unaccompanied minors arrive, and we no longer deal only with first generation immigrants. However, these kids continue to suffer certain levels of social exclusion. The Raval has always been a poor neighbourhood whose inhabitants generally have socio-economic problems. Thus not only are they poor, but as immigrants, the people who live here also face certain levels of anti-discrimination.
How is Casal dels Infants run?
The Casal’s board of directors is made up of five volunteers, with another 30 people on the board of associates. We have working groups made up of volunteers and coordinated by professional social educators and social workers. We have not yet had children that we helped in the past returning to work as volunteers, but we would like to see this happen at some stage.
We mainly focus on giving social support to children and families, educational support, integrating youth at risk, training and social/labour insertion and community support. In the 0-3 year old category, we work with about 100 children and 80-100 mothers. For children from 3 to 11, we work with a total of 200 kids (130 of which are in the Raval area). We work with 80 12 to 16 year olds (50 in the Raval, 30 in other areas).
What are the main challenges Casal dels Infants faces?
We originally set up in the Raval (this is still our main base), but we also work in other areas around Barcelona in La Mina of Sant Adrià del Besós, Santa Coloma de Gramanet, South Badalona and Besós, and we also carry out work in Morocco, in both Tangier & Casablanca. However, we are not yet as well known in the other neighbourhoods, thus our work is not yet as recognised there. This is one of our main challenges and objectives for the future.
What is Casal dels Infants mission and vision for the future?
We really hope to consolidate the work that we already carried out until now. We don’t have a meeting place in all the areas where we meet, so our main objective for now is to have a fixed meeting place in each neighbourhood. We hope to continue to receive support from public administrations (currently 35% of funding) and other private collaborators (65% comes from the Foundation Obra social de la Caixa and other social collaborators and companies).
How does Casal dels Infants support inclusive education?
One of the main objectives of the Casal is to help kids overcome the difficulties they face in adapting to and following the schooling process. We work together with local schools to improve the quality and efficiency of the school process so that children and young people are constantly given ample support. We also work with local businesses and neighbourhood associations in order to make sure that the whole community takes part in the education process.
Some examples of the work that we do includes helping kids with additional language support in Spanish and Catalan, supporting them with their school work and developing their work based and personal development competencies. At the invitation of the schools, we offer regular support sessions to 100 students in the schools themselves.
Photos from Website