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We applaud the Government initiative to draft "Recommendations for action by the Social Services in vulnerable settlements and neighbourhoods" [editar]


We applaud the Government initiative to draft

This is one of the proposals promoted by the Fundación Secretariado Gitano to ensure attention and assistance is given to the most vulnerable families.


We are very pleased that the Secretary of State for Social Services has taken into account the particular vulnerability of people who live in poverty and lack social protection, and who face particular disadvantages during the COVID-19 crisis. Highly vulnerable settlements and neighbourhoods are already facing a situation of social emergency due to a lack of food and basic necessities.   

The package of social measures approved by the Government last 14th March (Royal Decree 8/2020) is now accompanied by guidelines for Social Services to ensure that it will be applied urgently in the most vulnerable neighbourhoods. These guidelines reflect some of the proposals which we at the Fundación Secretariado Gitano have been urging various public administration bodies to adopt: to establish priorities in the distribution of aid; to ensure that action is taken on public health in areas suffering segregation and high social exclusion (“Proposals for urgent measures for the Roma population most affected by the Coronavirus”, 17th March); and to communicate these guidelines to government at local and Autonomous Community levels to ensure their urgent application (“In view of the social emergency many Roma families are facing, the aid promised by the Government during the Covid-19 crisis must urgently be delivered to the most vulnerable people and neighbourhoods now”, 24th March).

The Ministry of Social Rights and Agenda 2030 have just published the Technical document of Recommendations for action by the Social Services during the COVID-19 crisis in segregated settlements and highly vulnerable neighbourhoods, in which it is recognised that “confinement has an enormous impact on the most vulnerable people” and that “for this reason, we cannot ignore the consequences of this crisis for those most severely excluded, such as those who live in segregated settlements or in extremely vulnerable neighbourhoods”. According to the Technical document, “in our country, the number of towns with neighbourhoods which are highly or extremely vulnerable is as many as 440, with a total of 953 such neighbourhoods”. These are neighbourhoods “where especially impoverished people live, including a high proportion of Roma people, and an only slightly smaller proportion of immigrants and other people in a situation of exclusión”.

The people living in these areas already live in a situation with a high incidence of poverty: “in the case of the Roma population, 86% are below this threshold, with 46% in a situation of extreme poverty, and a childhood poverty rate of 89%”.

The lack of protection and the isolation experienced by these neighbourhoods increases their level of vulnerability in the face of the recently declared state of alarm, and for this reason, the Technical document reminds us, Article 7 of Royal Decree 463/2020 establishes that care and assistance, among other things, should be offered to “people and families who live in segregated, highly vulnerable areas”.

The Secretary of State for Social Rights therefore recommends that local Social Services, among others, should ensure the following: Actions for the protection of people living in segregated settlements or highly vulnerable neighbourhoods:

  1. Reinforce the action of local Social Services to meet the needs of this population and to carry out the activities stipulated in this document.
  1. Town councils must check the state of health of families living in these neighbourhoods, and guarantee that public health in these neighbourhoods will be monitored and assistance to families provided.
  1. Provide food and other basic necessities, such as medicine and sanitary products, to people living in these neighbourhoods.
  1. Guarantee the supply of basic utilities such as water, electricity and gas. 
  1. Ensure these families can access financial assistance which guarantees their income while they are unable to carry out their normal economic activities. This process should be streamlined as much as possible, given the urgency of the situation.
  1. Provide extra protection for boys and girls in these neighbourhoods, guaranteeing them sufficient nutrition, support to continue their schoolwork and protection from any other situations of risk.

We state again that we are pleased to have a document of Recommendations to Social Services which is focused specifically on the most vulnerable settlements and neighbourhoods, and we trust that town councils will support the actions proposed. Once again, at the Fundación Secretariado Gitano we will continue to work so that councils overseeing districts with Roma families living in these circumstances are aware of the Recommendations, and collaborate with us to implement them whenever necessary.