Friday, March 31

Feijoo wants to repopulate the countryside with young people from protection centers in exchange for work in construction and hospitality

The loss of inhabitants of the Galician rural appears in all the lists of problems of Galicia. The president of the Xunta, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, announced this week a plan that, according to his words, will allow “impact on the territory and fight against depopulation” and that consists of ensuring that minors from protection centers or foster families are emancipated in small towns with jobs in construction and the hotel industry: “All the minors who are protected by the Autonomous Community are going to try, when the legal protection ends, when they turn 18, to help them find a home and a job in the rural”.

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The program, initially focused on the provinces of Lugo and Ourense, is going to start as a pilot experience for some 100 young people, but the Galician president spoke at a press conference on Thursday that the objective is “to help these 2,500 young people” which are currently under the guardianship of the Xunta. The NGO responsible for the initiative, Igaxes, clarifies that in reality the proposal is proposed for minors who are from these rural areas and that it does not imply a transfer of people who reside or have links in other areas, unless they themselves find it attractive .

Igaxes, which has been working with minors in care for years, is going to manage the program, for which the Xunta reserves one million euros from European funds. Its director, Carlos Rosón, explains that the idea stems from a “sweep” that the NGO carried out through several municipalities in the south of the province of Lugo and the north of Ourense, in which it detected “job opportunities.” Helping these young people to emancipate themselves in rural environments was, according to the person in charge, one of the difficulties they were encountering.

The plan is to give them training so that they fit the profiles that are demanded in the area, fundamentally in construction and rehabilitation of homes and in hospitality. The NGO also proposes that they study programming because it is a job that can be done remotely. Another aspect that they want to promote with the program is that they create cooperatives. In the process, there will be mentors following up. Rosón points out that it is common for these minors, who come to the protection system because they were at risk in their environment, not to have completed compulsory education and drawing up a training itinerary is one of the fundamental points.

The plan will be developed for two years and the goal, according to Rosón, is for 50 young people to participate in each one. While they are integrated into the program, they will receive financial support to pay for their housing – flats rented to individuals in these rural town halls. The idea, he adds, is that if they get a job, they are independent from there. The initiative also aims to create leisure alternatives in the localities where young people settle and which consolidate a social network. The director of Igaxes indicates that they will focus not only on protected minors, but also on others who are at risk of exclusion in the areas where they work.

Feijóo pointed out that the new program takes as a reference another one that Igaxes has been developing for years, called Mentor. It takes place in the urban area and in 2021 more than 600 young people participated. It focuses on those over the age of 16 to help them transition to adult life with support to find a job. Some of them share apartments supervised by educators with the aim of learning how to run a house and make budgets to pay for expenses. The accompaniment in these cases can be extended up to 21 years, although, on average, they become independent at 19.