UCLG-MEWA Committee on Social Inclusion held its Presidency Meeting on 10-11 October 2019 in Mersin, Turkey, hosted by Mersin Metropolitan Municipality, President of the Committee. Vahap Seçer, President of the Committee and Mayor of Mersin, and the Co-Presidents were among the attendees.
The objective of the meeting was to determine the Committee’s strategy for the 2020-2022 period and to prepare the road map to be followed in line with this strategy. The meeting also aimed to strengthen the relations among the Presidency members of the Committee. Ibrahim Evrim, Advisor to the Mayor at Metropolitan Municipality of Mersin; Mohamed El Baba, Council Member of Saida Municipality (Lebanon); Fatma Hoşgöz, Deputy Mayor of Beylikdüzü (Turkey); Ahmet Haşim İnan, Council Member of Şanlıurfa Metropolitan Municipality (Turkey); Tuğba Ereken, Project and Financing Department Expert at the Union of Municipalities of Turkey; Fatma Yanık, Head of Cultural and Social Affairs Department at Mersin Metropolitan Municipality and Serdar Gökayaz, Head of Social Services Department were among the attendees of the meeting.
During the interactive Presidency Meeting, we had a very productive meeting and we drew up the three-year plan for the UCLG-MEWA Committee on Social Inclusion. Also, we discussed the Committee’s policy paper and the report of activities and prepared the road map for the Committee with the contributions of the President and Co-Presidents of the Committee. Besides, we discussed the Task Force on Migration to be established within the Committee. The purpose of the task force is to develop a rights-based strategy to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated response for the protection and humanitarian needs of migrants and asylum seekers hosted in and transiting through the Middle East and West Asia (MEWA) region. This task force is envisaged to serve as a network to follow up with our work.
Following the discussion of administrative issues, the meeting concluded with a technical visit to “İkinci Bahar” (Second Spring) Retirement Home and Mersin Barrier-Free Vocational Training Center where we had the chance to discover part of the amazing work done by Mersin Metropolitan Municipality and the way in which they included all disadvantaged groups in the society.
Mersin Metropolitan Municipality established İkinci Bahar Retirement Home with the aim of building a social bond between the retired citizens living in Mersin for them not to feel lonely, contributing to their social life and future, and preparing an artistic and cultural environment for retired citizens’ lives where they can share with one other their memories, joys, and sorrows. The Retirement Home also provides daily newspapers, magazines, and books for free and organizes social-cultural activities. Additionally, residents can benefit from psycho-social counselling services.
Mersin Barrier-Free Vocational Training Center brings people with disabilities together with various fields of art and helps them improve their hand skills. Courses of ceramics, carpet weaving, textile, marbling, and stone baby are given at different time periods throughout the year, attracting great attention from people with disabilities and their families. The Center offers trainings for the participation of disabled people in social life and improving their hand skills. Individuals with disabilities who attend the trainings have the chance to reflect their imagination on their paintings. In this way, they can become productive, and it contributes to their participation in business life as well. These courses are organized by Mersin Metropolitan Municipality, Mersin Provincial Directorate of the Institution of Providing Jobs and Employees (ISKUR), and Toroslar Public Education Center.