The Catalan Third Social Sector Desk (Taula del Tercer Sector Social de Catalunya) has been set up in July 2003 with the aim of supporting the inclusion of the most disadvantaged people in the society and striving to change the basic conditions which lead to exclusion. It works with private and public sectors as well as the Catalan society. Almost four years later, the Third Social Sector Desk held its First Congress in Barcelona on the 22nd and 23rd of March 2007.
Up to 23 umbrella organizations are currently active members of the Desk, representing more than 2000 Catalan entities, from AIRES (AssociaciÃ³ Intersectorial de Recuperadors i Empreses Socials de Catalunya) to CÃ€RITAS and CREU ROJA, from FCD (FederaciÃ³ Catalana d'Associacions d'Ajuda al Drogodependent) to FEATE (FederaciÃ³ d'entitats d'assistÃ¨ncia a la Tercera Edat), from MLP (Moviment Laic i progressista) to VORAVIU (FederaciÃ³ Catalana d'Entitats Pro IntelligÃ¨ncia LÃmit). These organisations serve more than 800,000 people, in particular, children, families, the elderly, youth, the disabled, the chronically ill, drug addicts, immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, prisoners, ex-prisoners, homeless etc. In total they generate 16,000 workplaces and work with 50,000 volunteers.
The intention of the Congress was to strengthen the cohesion between the involved organisations promoting their recognition as proponents of national social policies, creating a space of debate and exchange. With its 90 workshops and 3 plenary sessions, the congress focused on public policies, human resources management, corporate responsibility, accountability and quality standards. Participants were encouraged to share experiences, projects, relationships, and fundraising practices.
In a final speech of the day, Joan Puigcercos, representative of the Catalan Government, stressed the event's importance to future collaboration between public and private sectors, "reflecting that the black and white thinking about our country is a thing of the past". According to Mr Puigcercos auspices "the Catalan Third Sector is going to become something more dynamic and well-organised, gaining a fundamental role in Spanish society".
The congress ended with the collective reading of the Manifest of the Taula, which demands that social inclusion and cohesion are focal issues of the governmental policy, and that the Third Sector becomes a recognized agent for this vision.
ICVoluntaris-Barcelona mobilized and coordinated a team of volunteers involved in the logistics and support of the conference.