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Around one hundred children living at different care homes in the Barcelona area run by the Catalonian Government's Direcció General de l’Atenció a la Infància i l’Adolescència (DGAIA) were treated to a very special day, as they were visited by FC Barcelona president, Joan Laporta, and players from the women's football team as part of a supportive action by the FC Barcelona Foundation.
The initiative is part of the Foundation's Es Navidad todo el año (It's Christmas all year) project, benefitting different groups - from hospitalised children to groups of children, young people, and women in vulnerable situations and social risk - who have the chance to meet players from the different FC Barcelona professional teams. This time it was a visit by the women's football first team, given that they couldn't make the traditional visit to children's hospitals with the men's first team during the festive period. This is also the first time that an FC Barcelona professional team visits children at care homes, who live there because their families are unable to care for them due to different circumstances.
The FC Barcelona delegation, led by the president and the players, also included vice president for the institutional area, Elena Fort, vice president for the economic area, Eduard Romeu, director responsible for women’s football, Xavier Puig, and the general manager of the FC Barcelona Foundation, Dra. Marta Segú, as well as several of the Foundation's patrons. The party left the Ciutat Esportiva in five different vehicles to go to the different state-run children's care homes in the Barcelona area for boys and girls aged 0 to 18 years old in need of a home. These visits are part of the FC Barcelona Foundation Emotional Wellbeing programme with the aim of engendering positive emotions among children and young people in vulnerable situations.
The players arriving at the different centres caused a real commotion and was a moment of great joy and excitement for these children and young people, who had the spotlight shone on them for a day. They were able to meet the women's football stars, receive messages of support, and talk about each other's interests and hobbies and their everyday lives, as well as have photos taken with them and receive several gifts, from postcards to balls signed by the players. The women's football players found meeting these vulnerable children groups a unique and very enriching experience.
Shelters and homes for children
The shelters and care homes provide temporary residence for children aged zero to eighteen years old who are at social risk. They are managed by the Catalan Government's Direcció General d’Atenció a la Infància i l’Adolescència (DGAIA) and by the Barcelona Social Services Consortium in these cases too.
Most of these children and young people live at these centres until they become adults, in some cases they are groups of siblings that live at the same centre, but there are also migrant children and young people with no responsible adults in the country. These centres work to help these children and young people feel a sense of belonging and that the centre where they live is their base. The DGAIA works to promote the social inclusion of these children and adolescents, as well as their families, helping to prevent situations of risk.
The DGAIA cares for around 8,500 children in Catalonia. The Catalonia autonomous community has the third most children in this situation in Spain after the Basque Country and Aragon with 57% of the total. Around 4,900 of these children (57.5% of those in care) live in centres, one of the highest percentages in the country and almost double the figure a decade ago. These include over 200 children aged under six years old. The DGAIA has different initiatives and projects to promote foster care with families for all these children.
The following entities manage these social service centres: Eduvic, Isom, Intress and Fundació Natzareth.
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