The pandemic has weighed down economy of thousands of families in Madrid, many of them have found themselves in delicate situations that, surely, they had never been able to imagine. That is why going every Saturday to a pantry of food delivery it is not a pleasant situation. The hunger tails or of shame, as they were already cataloged in the hardest months of the health crisis, have not ceased. But to counteract this conjuncture, the figure of young volunteers from the different neighborhood associations is essential so that the entire process of distribution and aid is effective every weekend.

Young people do not start from a privileged situation, even though they are the most prepared generation, the precariousness and the unemployment They foresee an uncertain future. According to the latest data from Eurostat corresponding to the month of April, Spain has a youth unemployment rate of 38%, that is to say, more than twenty points higher than the average of the European Union. However, aware of this reality, the young volunteers do not have any problem in lending a hand to the neighbor, either by distributing food in their free time or waiting at the doors of supermarkets waiting for someone generous to donate any kind of food to them. basic product.

Adrián and Daniel collaborate in the distribution of food in the Entrevías – El Pozo pantry.
Jorge Paris | Jorge Paris

Referents of neighborhood aid

Adrián and Daniel They are lifelong friends, both are 22 years old and are members of the Entrevías – El Pozo pantry, one of the five distribution points for food and basic products belonging to We are Tribu Vallekas. A neighborhood organization that just won the 2020 European Citizen Award -Award granted by European Parliament-, for their social work in this southern district of Madrid during the Covid-19 pandemic, when this neighborhood support network was created.

Adrián and Daniel are willing to help the next person, their neighbor, regardless of the fact that their personal situation, at work level, is surrounded by uncertainty and precariousness. Adrián has finished his studies and now works in a bicycle dealership, his goal is to save as much as possible to be able to rent or buy a flat, but he is aware of the reality and the difficulties that this entails. “Things are difficult for us, we do not finish seeing the light at the end of the tunnel”, says Adrián with some frustration, who finds a “refuge” in the pantry. “It’s a place where you can get away from all the shit out there, it relieves you (sic),” he says.

In Daniel’s case, he is now studying a Higher Degree in International Trade and on weekends he works to get money to help him pay his basic expenses. However, the situation is not the best possible. “In the end what there is is precarious work, I go one month and I don’t know until the last day if they will renew me for the next”Says the young volunteer. Luckily, the time Daniel spends in Somos Tribu Vallekas “It is not a sacrifice, but a form of leisure”.

Adrián (22 years old), one of the founders of Somos Tribu Vallekas.
Adrián (22 years old), one of the founders of Somos Tribu Vallekas.
Jorge Paris | Jorge Paris

Every Saturday morning they help deliver food to their neighbors. Adrián is one of the founders, what has led him to collaborate is a simple matter of “need” and why “At any time you can be the one who is requesting food to be able to live”. The young man says that they organized “overnight”, there was no time to lose in such an extraordinary and delicate situation.

The difference in demand between toughest months of the pandemic and the news is not in the products, but in the profile of people who go to the pantry. “In March 2020 they were people who had nothing, that directly their situation was already serious. And now what we are seeing is a type of people who have never lived badly in their lives or have been in extremely serious situations, that is, people who have run out of savings or who have lost their jobs ”, explains Adrián.

The work of the young volunteers of Somos Tribu Vallekas is essential so that the products arrive at the pantry on time and can be distributed every Saturday. “The young people of the association take care of collecting the food and bringing it to the pantry,” says Daniel. In total they are more than 30 young volunteers who are part of this network, recognized at a continental level.

There are several ways to get these basic foods and items. One of them is the “Cart operation”, which consists of standing at the door of the supermarket and waiting for a neighbor to donate part of their purchase. “It is the neighbor who helps, from the one who contributes a package of rice to the one who donates a car valued at 300 euros”, says Adrián, in a statement that is related to the motto of Somos Tribu Vallekas: “Only the people save the people.”

Outreach work is essential in an increasingly digitized world, and the skills of young people in this field come into play. social media to reach more people. “We do not have a common Instagram account, but from our personal profiles we do upload photos and videos of when we come to help and many people are interested,” says Daniel.

Omar (20 years old), volunteer for the Asociación Grupo Vecinal de Las Águilas.
Omar (20 years old), volunteer for the Asociación Grupo Vecinal de Las Águilas.
Jorge Paris | Jorge Paris

Objective: Avoid embarrassment

The already famous hunger tails They became popular during the most critical months of the pandemic, families went to the different food delivery pantries to be able to feed their children. The photographs published for weeks in the different media with hundreds of people waiting to receive any type of basic product became a relevant topic, which was on everyone’s lips and that, of course, had to be countered. The solution It was not going to come from any institution, but it would come from the help of the neighbors, and to a large extent, the young volunteers.

Omar He is a 20-year-old volunteer, who is waiting to know if he can finally study Nursing, he dedicates part of his free time to help as a volunteer in the Las Águilas Neighborhood Group Association (Latina district). The young man explains the feelings of the families who go to the pantry in search of food and basic necessities. “We try to avoid large queues because we understand that it is a complicated situation, in which there is embarrassment”, he assures.

To avoid this “tough” situation, Omar explains how the association works. This has designed a system so that “long queues do not form at the door”, which consists of summoning people by time slots lasting 15 minutes. For this, each week is sent a broadcast message on WhatsApp for those interested to confirm their appointment.

Omar places baby products in the pantry of the Asociación Grupo Vecinal de Las Águilas.
Omar places baby products in the pantry of the Asociación Grupo Vecinal de Las Águilas.
Jorge Paris | Jorge Paris

Previously, families must be registered, by means of a file in which they must answer different questions, such as if they are receiving any kind of help, what income and expenses they have, how many children they have, or even what allergies or food intolerances they suffer. In this way, the network ensures a more “orderly” management that “helps to understand its situation.”

Omar considers that the role of young people in these tasks of social assistance should be the same as that of people of other ages, that they should be taken into account more so that there are different points of view when it comes to contributing ideas and facing each situation from a broader prism. “Having different groups and each one having their own experiences makes for a certain diversity And that is important when each one expresses his opinion within the association because it helps us make better decisions, ”says the volunteer.

The importance in the public sphere

Quique Villalobos, president of the Regional Federation of Neighborhood Associations of Madrid (FRAVM), ensures that the role of young people has been “fundamental” during the last year, in an exceptional and unprecedented scenario. “In the pandemic, not being a population at risk, they assumed a series of tasks and initiatives,” he says.

“The provision, the proposals when intervening in many situations came from young volunteers ”, says Villalobos, who adds that a differential factor of these has been the use of technologies, “The management in social networks has greatly amplified the work of neighborhood associations”.

Omar orders some products in the Las Águilas pantry.
Omar orders some products in the Las Águilas pantry.
Jorge Paris | Jorge Paris

The president of the FRAVM emphasizes to establish in a positive aspect the figure of the young person in the public debate. “Often times, people who have power perpetuate themselves in their position and, therefore, those who have the least are marginalized,” he points out, adding that in the case of young people, they are used as “workforce, or what is the same, people to whom they have to order or say what they should do, when, precisely, they are a very well prepared generation ”. But in general, the latter is not valued, but rather, according to Villalobos, “They are continually postponed in accessing certain responsibilities as if they were not capable of doing them”.

“In a rather clumsy way, in adulthood, you tend to waste the potentiality of young people, and that should not be done. Sooner or later, youth are called to have a greater weight ”, explains Villalobos. “Being aware that they could be useful in tackling certain difficulties has helped them to empower, and I don’t think that will fall into torn sacks for the next few times. They are eager and confident to assume greater responsibilities ”, concludes the president of the FRAVM.

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