Limassol, Venice – After its kick off in Venice in January the EU-funded research project Families_Share plans its first plenary meeting in Cyprus in June 2018.
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 Families_Share project is developing a social networking and awareness-raising platform dedicated to encouraging childcare and work/life balance. The platform capitalizes on neighborhood 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.
Balancing work and family life have become increasingly challenging in the last decade in Europe. The economic crisis has had a double effect, impacting labor 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 regarding learning and educational opportunities for children. At the same time, members of neighborhoods and communities are often isolated.
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 including them in family events. To achieve this objective, the project borrows and integrates the concept of time banking, capitalizing 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-organizing neighborhoods.
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 prototype that will trigger socially innovative models for socialising childcare in urban neighborhoods. 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. The Citylabs, which are located in Thessaloniki, Budapest, Bologna, Trento, Venice, Kortrijk De Stuyverij and Hamburg, will also raise awareness, build sustainability and facilitate the further exploitation at a national level. Cultural and socioeconomic impacts will be measured at both local and international level.
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Project coordinator: Agostino Cortesi
Universita Ca’Foscari Venezia
Dorsoduro 3246, Venice 30123, Italy
Tel: +39 041 234 8450