The sixth meeting of the RedEra + project, took place in Castilla-La Mancha, specifically in the towns of Sigüenza and Noheda (Cuenca) between November 30 and December 2, 2021. It is the second exchange of best practices of the project that could be carried out in person due to the state of the pandemic.

 The afternoon of November 30 was used for the reception of attendees in Sigüenza and included a presentation by the Commissioner of the Demographic Challenge of the Government of Castilla-La Mancha, Jesus Alique López, the regional strategy to fight against depopulation. Within the framework of this strategy, he highlighted the effort to categorize the rural areas by zones, which allows the intensity of the actions to be graduated. He also explained the set of economic, social and tax measures included in Law 2/2021, of May 7, aimed at promoting rural development in Castilla-La Mancha.

On December 1, the working day began with a detailed presentation by ACCEM of the socio-labor insertion program developed from the Refugee Reception Center of Sigüenza with the support, among others, of the Castilla-La Mancha Ministry of Economy, Business and Employment through the CREA line. Óscar Hernández and Ana Belén Sanz presented the main actions in the framework of this program thanks to which immigrants and refugees improve their training and employability. The combination of training and collaboration with locale businesses, which includes ACCEM's own insertion company, generates mechanisms that are contributing to the creation of jobs, the maintenance of the population and the socioeconomic development of the area. Through testimonies of workers directly benefited by the program, we were able to see how job creation, rooting and population establishment can be favored in this area of the Sierra Norte de Guadalajara with serious challenges in terms of depopulation.

 Then we visited "Gustos de antes" the family business of the sisters Irene and Rebeca Gómez. Irene explained how after her return to Sigüenza, after having worked in Catalonia for several years and having received training in countries like France and Belgium, she took over her parents' churreria to turn it into a business that includes a bakery and pastry shop as well as a cafeteria and churreria. With effort and new ideas, in little more than 6 years they have transformed into an SME that employs 17 people. Its staff is mainly made up of women and immigrants, some of whom previously passed through the Refugee Reception Center. A large part of the training of the workers has been received within the company itself. On the other hand, they are going to start collaborating with the Center in the area of training. For Irene and Rebeca it is important, due to the demanding schedules, that their employees live in the area, which makes this business initiative particularly suitable for the establishment of the population. In 2021, they jointly received the regional Woman of the Year award.

 On the morning of December 2, the project partners went to Cuenca to visit the archaeological site of the Roman villa of Noheda. Miguel Ángel Valero, scientific director of several of the excavations carried out over the years, explained to us the set of projects undertaken that have made this place an archaeological site that can be visited. The beginnings were not easy and in addition to raising funds for the excavations, they worked with the scarce local population to raise awareness of the historical and heritage value of the remains of this Roman villa from the 1st century BC-6th century AD, which probably houses the most spectacular figurative mosaic of the Mediterranean arc. The various excavation campaigns undertaken since 2005 have had, among others, the participation of the University of Castilla-La Mancha, funding from European programs, the support of the regional government and the Provincial Council of Cuenca. At present, the RECUAL program of the Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha, allows the hiring of 8 vulnerable people who during a period of 6 months are trained and improve their skills in construction and preservation of heritage with the aim of promoting their employability. The archaeological site, in addition to providing stable employment for 5 people, generates income and boosts cultural tourism in the area.


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