Barcelona kiosk co-op helps people with disabilities into work

'This initiative will allow us to have more and better opportunities for people with disabilities'

A co-operative of 25 people with disabilities will operate 10 disused newspaper stands in Barcelona under an initiative by the city council.

It is hoped the project will create new business models for the stands and integrate more people with disabilities into the workforce, in a city where only 25% of people with disabilities of working age have jobs.

The pilot scheme will last three years, with the stands opening next summer after a six-month training period for co-op members, who will decide how to use each kiosk.

Similar projects have been undertaken in London, Paris, Prague, Milan, Amsterdam and Berlin, where disused stands have been relaunched with a variety of functions, including second-hand bookshops, free-wifi points, online shopping collection points, art galleries, networking spaces, social dining rooms, information points, bicycle repair stands and recycling points.

The members of the new co-op have a range of disabilities, including physical, visual, hearing and mental health; their roles include co-ordinator, administrative support and kiosk manager. They will design the business plan, create the business model and operate the stands.

Laia Ortiz, Barcelona’s deputy mayor for social rights, said the new co-operative will be established as a labour integration company, so it must have at least 30% of its workforce at risk of social exclusion.

“We trust in the capabilities of all people,” she added.

The city’s health commissioner, Gemma Tarafa, said: “This initiative will allow us to have more and better opportunities for people with disabilities.”

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