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Through plenary, Council will ask Madrid to remove barriers to refugee reception

Foto patxi galanAccording to the Formentera Council's Office of Social Welfare, a plenary meeting this Friday February 24 will involve an official statement from the administration urging fewer obstacles to incoming refugees. Drafted by political groups Gent per Formentera and PSOE, the document airs concerns over the desperate situation of Syrians displaced by war in their country, a conflict now in its fifth year. The text also highlights, explained social welfare councillor Vanessa Parellada, Spain's refusal to meet intake quotas for asylum seekers set by the European Union in 2016.

The manifesto decries “Europe's failure to provide an adequate response to refugees. Efforts till now have centred on policing our own borders and turning Europe into a fortress. The result is that hundreds of thousands of people are forced to risk their lives on perilous land or sea crossings”. The document also underscores the “particularly tragic situation of women and children, who face exploitation and sexual violence” and “other vulnerable individuals, such as those with disabilities”.

Hence the Formentera Council's decision, first, to point out the universally recognised right to asylum and, second, to call on the Spanish government to disentangle the application process for asylum seekers and cut down the administration's response time. Those are just some of the measures laid out in the manifesto, which urges an array of improvements to refugee reception measures and guarantees to the right to asylum.

Second manifesto
Parellada also held up another official declaration, unanimously adopted by the Formentera Council in April 2016, which rejected the EU-Turkey refugee resettlement deal on the grounds that it was an egregious breach of legislation protecting refugees and would only worsen the humanitarian crisis under way.

Formentera with Syria
According to the councillor, the situation of people in refugee camps has been brought into sharp focus in recent weeks thanks to «Formentera amb Síria» (Formentera with Syria), a campaign organised by the Council and the non-profit group «Progreso y Desarrollo Humano». She also thanked the efforts and involvement of the entire population of Formentera.

Parellada called Formentera “an island full of welcoming people,” a fact she said was evident in “our 2015 pledge to put up refugees, which led Spain's department of immigration to create a roster of individuals willing to host refugees or able to offer other resources like clothes, money, childcare, language instruction, etc”.

Signups open for course on integration

integracio social2Through Friday March 3, registration will take place for the Formentera Council Office of Social Welfare's course on social and cultural integration. Now in its eighth year, the course is held twice annually, once in November and again in March. This round of classes will begin March 7 and finish the 30th.

Space is available for 15 and individuals interested in enrolling are asked to inquire at the social welfare office. A valid ID (temporary residence card or passport) is required for registration. Conducted over 20 hours in two weekly sessions, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4.30 to 7.00pm, the course will be held in the large classroom of the school for adults and be led by Dolores Tamargo.

Topics covered will include Spain's constitutional values, human rights and civil liberties, the Balearic Statute of Autonomy, the European Union and gender equality, among others. Aimed at familiarising students with the various subjects and helping them obtain the associated accreditation, the classes are mainly geared towards immigrants, particularly those wishing to renew their residence permit, prepare for the CCSE citizenship test or demonstrate integration during the early phases of their stay in Spain.

Squaring up before entering the world of the restaurant industry

foto restauracio 1The Formentera Council's Office of Social Welfare has announced that a training course on basic restaurant and bar operations, coordinated jointly between the administration and the Balearic Islands job service (SOIB), will reach its scheduled end Friday January 27. The training for disadvantaged groups has served eight Formentera residents and was financed with government money. Two professors oversaw instruction, which has been aimed at preparing participants for work in the hospitality sector.

Lessons, held in SOIB-accredited spaces owned by the Council such as one classroom in the Sant Ferran seniors' centre, were broken down into three subjects: 120 hours in basic restaurant service, 90 hours in fast preparation of food and drinks and 80 hours of non-work professional experience within a firm. The initiative had a budget of 19,200 euros.

Theory-based and practical classes
One aspect of work practice consisted in preparing breakfasts as a method of applying the theories studied in the classroom. Today, to mark the end of training, students will organise a special lunch for local restaurant owners, representatives of Formentera's small and medium-sized business association, the Chamber of Commerce and the Formentera Council. Classroom instruction ends tomorrow, allowing students to begin work experience in the local world of restaurants.

According to social welfare councillor Vanessa Parellada: “One of the Council's priorities is delivering training for the unemployed, especially those individuals facing obstacles to job market entry. In order to ensure maximum reach and a diverse range of topics, we organise training programmes on a rotating basis, for youth workers, lifeguards, language learners or social healthcare workers.” Parellada added that the Council's efforts to expand its network of SOIB-accredited training centres is ongoing, and spoke of the need to overcome the challenge posed by Formentera's “triple insularity”.

At plenary, Formentera signs on to pact to tackle gender violence

ple desembre 2016Council members gathered today to celebrate the administration's December plenary session. Across the board support was received by a proposal to adhere to the regional government's so-called “social pact” against gender violence. The Formentera Council committed to a series of actions, which social welfare councillor Vanessa Parellada described as “awareness-raising and mobilisation around the pact, developing and implementing a plan for equality in 2017 and establishing a protocol for response to gender violence at the local level”. In addition, the councillor promised a forthcoming working group would be tasked with prevention, improving training for people employed in the field, planning actions at schools and educational centres and supporting local women's groups that work to promote gender equality.

Job stability
Members of the plenary also unanimously backed a measure to make temporary employment contracts permanent. According to estimates, the proposed changes would provide job stability to some fifty workers. Councillor Parellada explained the measure would allow individuals to forego yearly or biannual contract renewals while they waited for the selective processes that would allow for professional advancement.

In the last plenary session of 2016 attendants backed a measure calling on the Palma ministry of education and university to both create a local professional music and dance conservatory and transfer authority over its management to the Formentera administration. Another proposal, to maintain the 50% Balearic Islands residents' discount on boat tickets irrespective of counter-fraud activity, was also adopted.

People with disabilities at Day Centre pilot veg patch and aromatic garden

feina hort aromaticLocal social welfare councillor Vanessa Parellada and Maria Uriarte, the director of island's care centre for dependent individuals, sat in on occupational training course centred around the centre's vegetable and aromatic garden. The hands-on course, just one of the numerous therapeutic activities made available to people with disabilities at the Formentera Day Centre, is premised on enabling individuals to achieve their maximum level of personal autonomy and social involvement through comprehensive daily work. Underpinned by personalised care for each participant, the course turns on the idea of stimulating and maintaining participants' abilities and aptitudes.

Course
The course will entail students' preparation of the aromatic plant garden, which will later provide material to be incorporated into personal care products, like soaps and oils, and ultimately sold. Technical support in the planning and execution of the course came from Petits Jardiners, a company run by Pablo Aixelá.

Goals
The course is aimed at giving individuals at the Formentera Day Centre occupational training-style alternatives for personal and social development. Other objectives include promoting participants' ability to engage in interpersonal relationships, as well as increased personal autonomy and community involvement.

More specific targets exist as well, like participants' learning how to safely and appropriately use tools and understanding the steps that go into the creation of a garden as well as the forthcoming task of crafting original products and selling them at Formentera's Christmas market and farmers' market.

During its initial phase, the ten individuals taking part in the course will meet twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays from 11.00am to 12.30pm. The price of setting up the garden and the first phase's associated costs totalled five thousand euros.

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