SPAIN: Salesian Program Helps Youth Without Families Who Have Outgrown Available Services
(MissionNewswire) Spain has been hit hard by the current economic troubles in Europe and now has the greatest inequality of the 27 countries of the European Union and one in five citizens living below the poverty line. According to the World Bank, close to 25 percent of Spanish workers are unemployed and a growing number of them can’t afford to buy enough food to live.
Salesians in Spain have been working for many years to provide educational and workforce development opportunities for poor youth through residential and technical and vocational training programs.
A Salesian program started in 2012 is working to address the needs of young men who have aged out of residential youth programs, many of whom are left without resources and little support and direction for the future. For these young people, it can be difficult to find stable employment and a place to live and many do not have an existing or adequate social network to offer them the support they need to live life fully as an adult.
In southern Spain, the Don Bosco Foundation in Cordoba provides support for close to 50 young men. The Foundation’s program includes housing, socio-educational services and workforce development.
“The program focuses on 18 year old youth who were once residents within Spain’s centers for minors and who, upon leaving there, did not have any further support to live with dignity,” says Antonio Moriana, director of Don Bosco Foundation Cordoba. “These young people, who are often immigrants, are now provided support that includes education, health, housing and the use of other resources in the city.”
Young men in the program have several options to help them transition out of residential programs for youth, including moving into a shared apartment, a local hostel or a group home managed in collaboration with Caritas, the international network of charitable organizations of the Catholic Church. Included in the program is a range of support services, including assistance preparing and applying for work. The young men are able to hone their business and professional skills in a supportive environment with other young men in similar situations and under the supervision of adult mentors who provide guidance during the transition into adulthood.
Don Bosco Foundation also offers a residential program for younger children aged eight to 17 that provides a group home environment for up to 24 youth. The focus is on building an alternative home environment for each child that is structured and supportive. Youth in this residential program attend school and have the opportunity to engage in social activities that help them transition from their teen years into adulthood. Older youth attending high school are offered pre-employment training, help applying for internships and access to employment placement agencies.
“At the Foundation, we are helping youth both in a group setting but also with their individual needs, including working on personal and educational skills so they are able to move forward with higher levels of school studies, carry out apprenticeships and apply for work,” adds Moriana.
World Bank – Spain