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Madrid city council’s department for families, equality and social welfare has been implementing a series of emergency plans for older people, women at risk of violence, the homeless and families.

The pandemic has hit the city of Madrid hard, and its human, health, economic and social implications are on a scale never experienced before. ESN member, the Department for Families, Equality and Social Welfare, explains how they had to act with speed, innovate and have a reform focus in mind.

Speed of action regarding the reorganisation of the Housing Network for Homeless People and the Elderly Care Network. Innovation through a programme of emergency help with the set up of accommodation for different population groups and simplification of procedures. Finally, the adaption of services to an online and telephone nature.

A series of actions have involved an emergency plan for older people, women at risk of violence, the homeless, and families.

Services for older people were reorganised to reinforce home food delivery, telecare, and homecare. A second challenge was the need to address issues of loneliness and isolation through specific campaigns as well as cognitive stimulation activities conducted remotely. A third challenge was addressing grief counselling for relatives of the deceased. Looking into the future, the department is already working on future programmes to combat solitude post-COVID, setting up units to detect risk situations across the city and progress telecare.

With the plan to address violence against women, the department coordinated with the regional government a 16-spot emergency centre just for the city of Madrid and carried out communication campaigns.

The emergency plan for the homeless resulted in more than 1000 places in just a few days, using sports centres, hotels, hostels including a hotel for people with mild symptoms of COVID-19. But the most important element has been the quality of the psychosocial and health care provided.

The emergency plan for families focused first on telephone and online support to adapt existing support centres and services for children, youth and families; keeping schools open through distance learning; online youth programmes with leisure and fitness activities. The second part focused on responding to the food crisis with emergency healthy feeding contracts for 500 vulnerable children in nurseries, or meals-on-wheels services for 3,600 older people. The 21 Districts’ Social Services are leading the response, providing food to 82,000 people a day, some 30,000 families, with €8.6 million being put into food contracts.

Between mid-March and mid-May, the Department experienced a 52% increase in their activity compared to the same period last year. To find out more about their current and future planning, check this document prepared by the department for families, equality and social welfare of the city.