All districts to get support services for teenagers

In 2016 the ‘Aquí t’escoltem!’ support points provided services for 2,000 teenagers and young people. A sixth facility was opened on 5 April in the district of Sant Martí, with another to be added each year until all ten districts are covered in 2021. The budget for the service will be increased by 157% in 2018.

The support points known as ‘Aquí t’escoltem!’ [We listen to you here!] offer confidential advice and guidance for youngsters between the ages of 10 and 20, helping them in their emotional development. Group activities are also organised to develop social habits and personal skills.

There are currently six such points around Barcelona, in the districts of Sant Andreu, Nou Barris, Gràcia, Les Corts, Sarrià – Sant Gervasi and Sant Martí, the latter being the latest to open. According to a report, a total of 207 teenagers and young people sought support at the ‘Aquí t’escoltem!’ points in 2016. Some 67% of requests are from girls. The average age of users is 16, and 24% are referred by social services. Other users reach the service via their school of college or upon the advice of relatives or professionals from various educational or health entities.

The most common cause of individual enquiries involves issues with the family environment (38% of cases). Other causes are difficulties in getting on with others (15%), insecurity (14%), problems with partners (10%), emotional upset (8%), the grieving process (7%), school bullying (3%), drug use, anxiety and aggressiveness.

Besides individual support, 2,012 teenagers took part in the 74 group training and advice activities organised at the ‘Aquí t’escoltem!’ points in 2016. The average age of participants was 15, workshops dealing with matters such as detecting sexist behaviour, emotional education and building self-esteem.

The high volume of enquiries, at both an individual and group level, led to the decision to boost the service in all districts of Barcelona. A new point is to be set up every year until 2021, building on the six current facilities until there is one in each district. “We’ve seen that it’s a well-used service by teenagers and their families and so we’ve decided to broaden the network so we have one point in each district, to carry on addressing the needs of adolescents and work together with their families”, noted the Councillor for Childhood, Youth and the Elderly, Carmen Andrés.

To step up the service, the budget allocation for ‘Aquí t’escoltem!’ points will be increased by 157% in 2018. The current budget is 225,290 euros, which will be boosted to 578,845 euros. The rise will be maintained in subsequent years. There will also be a rise in hours by professional staff, with 25 hours a week for the social education service and 12 hours a week for the psychology service.

Centre for Families with Teenagers

The ‘Aquí t’escoltem!’ points form part of the Service for Families with Teenagers, which also offers information, training and guidance for families with teenage children via the Centre for Families with Teenagers. Last year 866 parents and guardians took part in the 31 training workshops at the centre, covering issues such as tolerance and frustration, emotional management, comprehension of teenage thinking and communication with children.