Good practices in activities with vulnerable groups (common experiences of NGOs in Catalonia and Timisoara)
Cosmin Goian1, Salvador Periago Fernandez2, Patricia Luciana Runcan3
This paper will point out specific activities of social work and social education in Timisoara - Romania and Barcelona - Badalona Spain. It will present joint projects from the past decade collaboration based on bilateral international exchanges, community intervention for vulnerable groups, promoting volunteering, labor market integration, etc.. Reference organizations are Association Pro impAct 21 of Timisoara Romania and La Rotlana Organization in Barcelona, Spain. It will also highlight the features of the people involved as volunteers in projects of both organizations, with reference to similarities and differences between them. It will describe the effects of learning and training of the volunteers attending these projects in Romania and Spain.
Keywords: social education, vulnerable groups, bilateral cooperation, Volunteering.
Bilateral cooperation between the two organizations from Spain and Romania started in 2001 and continues to this day. Between the members of LaRotllana and ProImpact 21, international exchanges for four European projects have been succeeded, a joint network, 18 volunteer internships funded by the European Commission, long or short. Also, between social educators in Spain and social workers from Romania, there has been a continuing correspondence implementing various independent projects. For starters, we must mention that the techniques of working with vulnerable individuals or groups have many similarities between the two organizations. Also, the administrative components of the environment of Romanian and Spanish (Catalan) meet a great number of similarities. Regarding the source of funding for NGOs, both use funds from the European Commission, mayors, local councils, government agencies, and private donors. In terms of beneficiaries, the two organizations offered social services for young people with fewer opportunities, young delinquents, dropout situations, ludotherapy, and people living with HIV. Differences found on beneficiaries are: the Spanish organization offers services to individuals and groups of immigrants, consumers of banned substances and ProImpact 21 had between 2003-2007 programs for street children and youth in the child welfare system - foster care, people infected with tuberculosis. These common and different elements between the beneficiaries of both organizations have enabled their members in the two countries to engage in various social activities of the culture in which they live. Even if geographically there is a clear gap between the two countries there was the possibility that members can participate directly in the other country in specific activities of social education and social work. We tried to involve beneficiaries in activities that do not exist in the home of a member organization. Thus members of Romania had the opportunity to engage in social activities with immigrants from Africa or Eastern Europe and members of Spain to work with street children or people sick with tuberculosis. An important feature of the two NGOs is that both are trying to use beneficiaries in their volunteer activities, for example Spain is counting on the support of immigrants, of persons who committed offenses of a criminal nature or were addicted to prohibited substances and in Romania working with volunteers from the child protection system. We will further describe common projects of the two organizations and volunteers involved in activities with reference to similarities and differences.
1 Social Work Department, West University, Romania, email@example.com
2 NGO La Rotllana, Barcelona-Badalona, Spania, firstname.lastname@example.org
3 Social Work Department, West University, Romania, email@example.com
In order to obtain data for the analysis of peculiarities of volunteers in Romania and Spain records of volunteers of 50 members of the two organizations were used. Also, the features of the archive information on the organization Pro Impact 21 Projects were used: ES-31-34-2005-R1, DIGNIDAD Y CIUDADANIA EUROPEA PARA TODOS, EN-1.1-37-2004-R1-action 1, ESBORO ES -31-16-2007-R2, RO-12-11-2007-R2-funded by the European Commission, Education and Culture, action 1 - Youth for Europe, 1.2 Youth Initiatives and PRO Functionality 2013.
Table 1. Characteristic of volunteers:
+ 15 years
Regarding the situation of similarities and differences between Romanian and Spanish volunteers, we found these. Volunteers from La Rotllana are all from the same neighborhood, the same proportion Badalona, participate in volunteer activities following the neighbors, friends, and family member’s model; there is an important tradition in this respect. Volunteers in Romania are in proportion of 46% of Timisoara and the difference lies in Timis County and various cities in Romania: Deva, Hunedoara Drobeta-Mehedinti, Oradea, Bihor, Caransebes-Caras Severin, etc.. Most of Romania which are not from Timisoara met as colleagues at the Social Work Department, Faculty of Sociology and Psychology at the West University of Timisoara with common interests in the social area. It is a peculiarity in providing time and resources of an organization4.. Based on motivation identifying involvement in volunteering in a paper published in 20045, we identified cases generally similar to determine volunteers from the two countries to engage in activities: Need for offering help, compassion 92% religious motivation (liability due to personal religion) 62%, need to have a cause 28% social support (need of friends) 68% indirect interest (getting a job in that organization.
4 Adirondack S. (1999) Efficient management for NGO’s, FDSC, Bucureşti p.46
5 Goian, C. (2004) Skills in Social Work, European Institute, Iasi pp.133-139
or references for future jobs) 44%; opportunity to travel to international volunteer placements or exchanges 56%, because of the opportunity to use equipment, vehicles 14% for curriculum vitae and the trend 22%, 8% lack of occupation.
For availability of time volunteers from both organizations are willing to come whenever necessary and have free time to participate in the activities. The ones from La Rotlana are engaged in a greater number and then participate out of working hours and during weekends. As the difference, in Romania, the social work students seek to supplement their practical work and so there is confusion between the practice of their specialty and volunteering6. It is known that social assistance is predominant a practice profession so students are looking to develop skills in this area but the organization must clarify boundaries between practice and volunteering. In the study it was revealed that those registered as volunteers know the status of the organization, responsibilities and rights they have and the person who is the coordinator. Statements of the management team of both the organization of Spain La Rotlana and Pro Impact21 of Romania were put in a position to fire volunteers. The job evaluation activities used in Romania are after the following criteria:
- Number of hours completed
- The results of activities
- Relations with the coordinator of volunteers
- Relations with other volunteers
- Relations with beneficiaries
- Expectations for the future, other areas of interest
Next we will describe features of joint projects of the two organizations. We will analyze two international exchange projects one of the Association Pro Impact 21 E-1.1-37-2004-R1- action 17 and one of the Association La Rotllana ESBORO ES-31-16-2007-R28. The first one was conducted in Romania in two locations in Timisoara and Suceava (Zugreni area) and offered the opportunity of a group of 28 young people from Romania and Spain have set up common network projects in the European Voluntary Service on Social Work specialization . A "Youth Exchange" is a project that is based on partnerships that brings together youth groups from several countries. "Youth Exchanges" means more than that. Through these projects, young people have the opportunity to work in an intercultural environment, with young people from other countries and other environments. They have the opportunity to collaborate, discuss, to debate, to experience cultural diversity, differences, Europe. And also have the chance to know themselves in relation to others and to form their own impressions, to combat prejudice and stereotypes about other cultures. All these things can happen in a "Youth Exchanges" project, whose idea is designed and implemented in common. The themes to run projects are very diverse and can meet a broad range of needs and interests. Projects can be cultural, ecological, environmental, social, sporting, civic culture. In other words, the idea of the project is the choice of youth! And regardless of the chosen theme, such a project has the power to send messages to participants, as in the spirit of diversity, inclusion, tolerance, participation9. The second project ES-31-16-2007-R2 was held in Badalona, Spain in the summer of 2007 in the Youth in Action Program. This project has worked on the following principles:
Cooperation with Member States – A common agenda, mutual learning, dissemination of results and progress reporting are key elements to promote learning from good practice and exchange of information on their priorities and actions
6 Iovu, M.B., Runcan P.L. Evidence-Based Practice: Knowledge, Attitudes and Beliefs of Social Workers In Romania. Revista de Cercetare si Interventie Sociala, 2012, vol. 38, p.66
7 Project Report RO-1.1-37-2004-R1-acțiunea 1, Education and Culture; Programul Youth, European Commission
8 Prporoject R ES-31-16-2007-R2 ESBORO, Education and Culture, Programul Youth in Action, European Commission
Structured dialogue – involving young people in continuous joint reflection on priorities, implementation and follow-up
Evidence-base for youth policy – all policy must be based on concrete evidence, experience and knowledge of the situation of young people
Youth work – promoting opportunities for young people to develop autonomy and key competences such as a sense of initiative and entrepreneurship and to actively participate in all fields of public life (social, political, educational, sports, service)
The Youth in Action Program – contributes to the goals of the EU Youth Strategy by providing opportunities for young people to be mobile, to learn and to participate across the EU10
11 Raportul de finalizare al proiectului DIGNIDAD Y CIUDADANIA EUROPEA PARA TODOS cu numarul de identificare ES-31-34-2005-R1
12 http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2009:0200:FIN:EN:PDF - An EU Strategy for Youth – Investing and Empowering
A renewed open method of coordination to address youth challenges and opportunities
13 http://ec.europa.eu/esf/main.jsp?catId=35&langId=en European Social Fund
An efficient project developed between the two organizations was DIGNIDAD Y CIUDADANIA EUROPEA PARA TODOS with identification number ES-31-34-2005-R111. It has proposed to involve young people in activities common to the two organizations to provide services for Timisoara’s street children in 2007. In addition to improving the quality of life of the beneficiaries the project offered the members of the work teams of the two NGOs positive professional experiences, competences to work in a team, to improve personal values, to support the principles of social justice. Improved and assumed values have a particular importance between young people from both communities on the one hand so different, because historical moments, technological development, and on the other hand with many cultural similarities. The project was also visible because of the establishment of a documentary with a professional team of Spanish television news TV Badalona.
A New Project, Pro functionality 2013, implemented throughout the year 2013 by the Association Pro Impact 21 is based on experiences gained in the last decade, in relationship with La Rotllana. Also, the project is based on the principles of the European Commission for working with youth12.. Pro functionality 2013 aims for specific working techniques of social work and social and professional advisors to provide for a group of 20 young people with fewer opportunities the chance to find and keep a job. The project is based on European principles and Social Operational Programe Human Resources Development Fund for integrating disadvantaged13 people in the labor market.
After over a decade diachronic analysis it can be concluded that the cooperation of the two organizations in Romania and Spain have resulted in projects that have improved the quality of life for different social service beneficiaries, members of professional organizations were formed and have developed more skills, cultural differences have been experienced by participating in international mobility. In numbers, cooperation between La Rotllana-Pro Impact 21 means 122 people have attended the bi-or trilateral international exchanges in the European Voluntary Service.
1. Adirondack S. (1999) Efficient management for NGO’s, F.D.S.C., Bucureşti p.46
2. Goian, C. (2004) Skills in Social Work, Institutul European, Iasi pp.133-139
3. Iovu, M.B., Runcan P.L. Evidence-Based Practice: Knowledge, Attitudes and Beliefs of Social Workers In Romania. Journal of research and social intervention 2012, vol. 38, p.66
4. Project Report RO-1.1-37-2004-R1-action 1, Education and Culture; Youth Program, European Commission
5. Project Report ES-31-16-2007-R2 ESBORO, Education and Culture, Youth in Action Program, European Commission
8. Report DIGNIDAD Y CIUDADANIA EUROPEA PARA TODOS identification number ES-31-34-2005-R1