Last June, the Agència Valenciana Antidespoblament (Avant), launched the Itinerant program, a pilot project in collaboration with the Valencian Federation of Municipalities and Provinces and the Mancomunidad de Alto Palancia, in Castellón, which aims to coordinate a itinerant self-employed professionals route to provide basic services at competitive prices in municipalities at risk of depopulation.
Ultimately, it is about bringing the citizens of small towns closer to services that are not found in their municipalities by professionals such as physiotherapists, podiatrists, veterinarians, computer scientists, butchers, carpenters, air conditioning and refrigeration technicians … The initiative has had such a success that the Generalitat Valenciana has decided to implement it in other regions of the interior of the provinces of Alicante and Valencia.
“Professionals are being exported to the inland territories” to adapt supply to demand, as highlighted by Jeannette Segarra, general director of Avant, who added that the program is returning to these “small, but important, trades that had ceased to exist “.
The mayor of the Castellón town of Azuébar and president of the Alto Palancia Mancomunidad, Jéssica Miravete, highlights the proper functioning of Itinerant, “these are basic and essential services, often necessary for the population, which were not available and that, in this way, they can get closer, above all, to the elderly who live in our towns. ”
Miravete explains that it is the city councils that are normally in charge of coordinating, of acting as an intermediary, between the neighbors and the professionals who participate in the program (the directory of services and professionals who participate is also available through the website of the community ). The mayor emphasizes that the fact that the City Council acts as an intermediary serves as a “guarantee” before the elderly, “who are afraid that a stranger enters their houses and that he comes recommended by the City Council gives them peace of mind.”
To publicize the services among the population, Miravete comments that in the case of Azuébar they have used all the channels available to them: “We have a WhatsApp group through which we disseminate all the information that may be of interest to citizens. , as is this case, as well as it is available on the bulletin boards and we publish it on a municipal side “. “The objective is to reach the maximum number of neighbors possible,” he says.
An opportunity for professionals
The participants in this initiative are, in general, very satisfied with the welcome received, while seeing it as a job opportunity. Violeta, a veterinarian based in Segorbe, acknowledges that, although she has not received many calls yet, she has noticed an increase in the volume of work, “for example, for the vaccination campaign.” His intention, if he manages to have a more or less stable clientele, is to organize shifts by municipalities to travel to that locality on a certain day and facilitate the provision of the service with an established calendar. At the moment, she is very satisfied with the reception, “that the municipalities recommend you, it strengthens you”.
Marcos is a technician in air conditioning and refrigeration from Almedíjar, one of the municipalities of the region, and explains how he found out about the initiative through a group of the neighboring Navajas City Council, which requested professionals interested in participating: “It seemed to me an original idea offer itinerant services around the region, specifying a few days “. In his case, he acknowledges that, without having received “an avalanche” of work, they have received numerous calls: “The experience is very good, because it serves to maintain certain services that do not exist with great comfort for the neighbors, who already they know how to find us. ”
Another of the services offered is that of a physiotherapist. Joan, who is from Valencia, is in charge of this: “Since June I have received three or four calls directly and as many thanks to word of mouth among the neighbors, although I am aware that summer is a bad date.” In his case, he tries to travel to attend several appointments, although if the project works well he confesses: “I am contemplating the possibility of going to live in that area.” Joan highlights how grateful the people she deals with are being.
Vicente, for his part, is a podiatrist and has his clinic in the Castellón town of Altura: “If you can, we prefer that you travel here, because that is where we can offer you a better service, but if we have to travel to other towns, we will we do, because there are older people who cannot leave the house or it is impossible for them to come to Altura “. In addition, he emphasizes that Itinerant has allowed him to become known in the region and to be sought out more, “we have been working here for four years, and there are those who already know us, but this helps”. “The reception has been very good,” he concludes.