Families_Share launched in Venice
On January 9, 2018, the kick-off meeting for the Families_Share project was held at Ca’Forscari University in Venice.
Funded under the Information and Communication Technologies programme of Horizon 2020’s Industrial Leadership component, and its call for collective awareness platforms for sustainability and social innovation, the project is developing a social networking and awareness-raising platform dedicated to encouraging childcare and work/life balance. The platform capitalises on neighbourhood networks and enables citizens to come together to share tasks, time and skills relevant to childcare and after-school education/leisure, where these have become unaffordable in times of stagnation and austerity.
The Families_Share project offers a bottom-up solution in the form of a co-designed platform supporting families to share time and tasks related to childcare, parenting, after-school and leisure activities and other household tasks — with a particular focus on low-income families. The project also aspires to engage with the elderly by involving them in childcare activities and by offering them support in shopping and administrative tasks, but also by involving them in family events. To achieve this objective, the project borrows and integrates the concept of time banking, capitalising on consortium members’ existing digital social innovations in the childcare field. It also exploits the potential of information and communication technology (ICT) networks to increase participatory innovation by encouraging self-organising neighbourhoods.
Balancing work and family life has become increasingly challenging in the last decade in Europe. The economic crisis has had a twofold effect, impacting labour market conditions on the one hand, and welfare provisions on the other. As a result, unemployment rates have risen (mainly in male-dominated sectors), while more women (including mothers) are working on a part-time basis. Stable jobs can no longer be taken for granted and precarious contracts are increasingly widespread, with many workers entering re-qualification schemes and facing periods of unemployment. A shrinking workforce of permanent workers is subject to augmented workloads and longer working hours, making the balance between work and everyday life more difficult, and the current model unsustainable.
At the same time, as a result of budget cuts in public welfare expenditure, in many European cities the available childcare services are insufficient, putting families with children under significant pressure. After-school activities have also become a luxury that low- and medium-income families can rarely afford, leading to impoverishment in terms of learning and educational opportunities for children. At the same time, members of neighbourhoods and communities are often isolated.
Families_Share will be deployed within different settings and environments in seven European cities where participatory needs analysis, co-design and co-creation processes will be set up, leading to the development of the first Families_Share platform prototypes that will trigger socially innovative models for socialising childcare in urban neighbourhoods. Digital social innovation processes will be supported by communication and dissemination efforts, and the local experiment as a whole will shape the seven Families_Share CityLabs (Thessaloniki, Budapest, Bologna, Trento, Venice, Kortrijk De Stuyverij and Hamburg), which will include efforts to raise awareness, build sustainability and facilitate further exploitation at national level. Cultural and socioeconomic impacts will be measured at both local and international level.