Humanities Students Gain Knowledge of Housing Problems from Caritas
On Monday, 19 January 2015, students from the Faculty of Humanities had the opportunity to learn about the problems faced by many families when they are made homeless. During the session “From Heartache to Hope: The Challenges of Becoming Homeless”, members of the Caritas Charitable Organization of Barcelona, Àngels Valls and Joana Suñer, described the day-to-day situations they face in Barcelona.
Àngels Valls, an academic collaborator at ESADE Business School and the head of Training and Workforce Entry at the Caritas Charitable Organization of Barcelona, and Joana Suñer, the head of the charity’s Housing Advice Service, held a session for humanities students in which they explained what the charity does for families who have become homeless.
Suñer expressed concern about the lack of decent housing for many people. She said, “It’s a constitutional right. Not having decent housing can lead to both physical and mental health problems”. In her opinion, the solution involves “creating new tools to help people meet mortgage or rent payments and promoting social housing”.
Valls explained that her department has launched an initiative known as “Feina amb cor” (Job with a Heart), which addresses the problems experienced by families as a result of unemployment. During her lecture, she expressed sadness about the current realities in the labour market. She said, “The situation is crazy: so many people are off and on unemployment benefits every few months. Contracts are temporary and very short”.
As the speakers explained, the aim of Caritas is not to offer an employment plan, but to “treat people with dignity”. Valls explained, “We spend six months with them, and during this time we offer them advice, workshops, accountants, etc. They also have the chance to volunteer if they wish. By doing this, we involve people and make them feel useful and motivated”. The most common reaction among people in situations of long-term unemployment “is to cross their arms and give up”.
The session was part of the Interdisciplinary Workshop the Faculty of Humanities organizes each year. All students enrolled on the Humanities and Cultural Studies degree programme get involved, and this year’s theme was “Cultural Analysis of Emotions: Great Works on Suffering and the Search for Meaning”.