Birth and FIRST ERA of the Foundation:
The orphan asylum
Oil on canvas by Augusto Junquera 1920
We can place the antecedents of the history of the Vinjoy foundation in the year 1876, at which time Don Domingo Fernández Vinjoy began his task with helpless orphans, not hesitating to take to the streets in front of the children to request alms from passersby.
The orphans’ first home is Don Domingo’s humble house on Calle de Santa Ana and then number 2 on Calle del Fresno (today Pérez de la Sala). The initiative was institutionalized in 1906, the year in which a new building was inaugurated, on the road to Cristo de las Cadenas – then on the road to Fresno – where the headquarters of the institution would be located for many years. It is important to underline the importance of these two moments: that of personal initiative, which starts the project, and that of collective, institutional support, which is equally necessary.
These first moments in the history of the Foundation will be linked to the rest of the history of Asturias, how could it be otherwise in an entity so linked to its land and community. Thus, in 1906 the Asylum building was built, capable of housing one hundred children, with the money left over from what was collected for the Principality Battalion, of Volunteers for the Cuban War, in 1896, once it had ended.
In this way, a part of the money raised for the war was used to help and train the most destitute Asturian orphans. D. Domingo could not see this new equipment, as he died in 1897.
However, with the support of public institutions and especially Bishop Martínez Vigil, the orphan asylum continued to progress continuously. Thus, in 1911 there were eighty-five asylees, in 1914 they exceeded one hundred, and in 1926 there were 130. This progress of the institution motivated a general recognition of the citizens towards the institution, which culminated in 1917 with one of the most massive events held in Oviedo.
On July 14, 1923 that first period culminated, in which the Vinjoy Foundation was legally consolidated as a charitable institution, “with the aim of taking in orphaned children.”
After the Civil War, and the building on the road to Christ destroyed, the orphans, who had been taken in by the Vinjoy Foundation, became part of the Provincial Children’s Residence.
SECOND ERA of the Foundation: School for the Deaf and Dumb
(Provincial College of the Deaf) and Hearing and Language Center
In March 1959 the Foundational Statutes were modified, giving entry to the then so-called Board of Trustees to the Provincial Council of Oviedo and to the Savings Bank of Asturias, and also modifying the purposes, becoming the teaching of deaf-mute and blind children . In 1962 the School for the Deaf-Mutes or Hearing and Language Center opened its doors, with the capacity to host 150 boarding students.
The Foundation’s activity consisted, essentially, in the training of deaf students (from 4 to 18 years old), most of them on boarding school. The number of students was, on average, about 140 from the academic year 1963-64 to the 1.982-83. The Center has a recognized prestige in the Asturian community and is one of the protagonists in the history of special education in Asturias.
As a consequence of the autonomic development process, and in accordance with the Statute of Autonomy of the Principality of Asturias, the Principality is subrogated in the ownership that corresponded to the Provincial Council.
As of 1982, the year of the Integration Law, which will tend to school students with some deficiency within the ordinary school, the number of students drastically decreases. The 1.992-93 academic year, due to the poor state of the facilities, is the last held in the historic building.
In 1993, the Foundation, which articulated all its activity around the Specific College for the Deaf, found itself in a delicate situation, which made its continuation very difficult, given the deteriorated state of the building, its activity is not adequate to the new reality of deafness and loss of sense of the Center with the Integration Law, which places children with some, the number of students decreases, as students finish their training, as there are no new incorporations.
In addition, the Caja de Ahorros de Asturias, which financially supported the activity of the entity, disassociates itself from the Board of Trustees (September 1992).
The Foundation, after so many years of recognized social work in this second period as a College for the Deaf, goes through a difficult period of progressive deterioration, which will last until 1997. Although there is a decision, on the part of the Board of Trustees, to adapt the Foundation to the new needs of deafness in Asturias, the project has not yet materialized and the activity is structured around a School that has become a Special Education Center for deaf students with associated disabilities (multi-disabled), with a reduced number of students , most of which are finishing their schooling, and with the activity located in classrooms assigned by the Provincial Directorate of Education, at first, and on a rented basis at the Padre Ferrero Center, in a second period.
However, at this apparently terminal moment, the Foundation once again resurfaces with a third era that is going to change the scenario of deafness in Asturias.
Comprehensive intervention with deafness
We can consider the third era of the Vinjoy Foundation starts in the year 1997. During this year, the Articles of Association are modified and a new manager is named, with the assignment of designing and leading a project of comprehensive intervention in hearing impairment. From this moment on, the Foundation starts a period with a lot of dynamism, creativity and development which will end up transforming the Foundation, in only a few years, in a national referent in the comprehensive mooring of hearing impairment and in a model of intervention for other socio-educational entities in Asturias and in the rest of Spain.
In the year 1998, the Foundation has already a new project and starts to spread its activity further than that of a school, starting Programmes of Social Guarantee, Vocational Training, Adults Training, Community Development…., seeds, all of it, of what will be the future educational Centres and Institutes.
In October 2000, the new Vinjoy building is opened in Avda. De los Monumentos, 61-C, Oviedo. This equipment, built on land owned by the Social Services Department, and made up of several buildings and areas, is considered as one of the most important adapted equipment in Spain. The recognition and assessment of these premises, visited by different groups and entities every year, doesn´t come from being adapted to people with sensorial, physical, intellectual or even social disability, nor for having taken into account pedagogical criteria above any other, nor even for it being highly functional or beautiful, but because it was able to pick up and reflect, in some way, the love and hope which inspired its design and construction.
One of the Institutions which had an essential role in this period in the Foundation is the Common Schooling and Educational Resources Institution –CREDA-. In 1997, the only activity working was the Special Education School (for deaf people with associated impairments) but, from then on, the number of programmes started to increase: Adults Education Programme (varying the offers according to the needs), deaf and Blind Children´s Department and other Special Cases ( which worked between 2002-2006), University Students with Hearing Impairment (there was an agreement with the University of Oviedo) and the Specialized Support Team (2005).
Another Institution that has played an important role is the Vocational Training Institution (CFPYO). The Social Guarantee Programmes (ACNEEs) start in 1997, being dedicated to craft work and reaching prestige and recognition not only in the region but also in the whole state. The Employment Workshops start in 1999, being the first in the state of such features and obtaining the highest rate of effectiveness of all the ones undertaken in Asturias. The Institution of Support for Integration (set up in 2002) is established with the aim to assist adequately all Asturian deaf people with an intellectual disability, and also intellectual disabled and people with mental health problems, providing an alternative and complementary model to the previous ones. To these steady programmes, we have to add the Employment Training Courses, both the ones included in State Plans and the private ones.
An important Institution for the Foundation, due to the options and criteria which define it, is the Community Development Centre –CDC-, which starts to work in 1998 and will start organising programmes for the Entertainment of Children and Teenagers, Courses and Workshops, Sport Schools/Institutions, Social Participation, Voluntary Programmes, Office for Guidance in Hearing Impairment, Boarding House Service (guardianship and transition to adult life) and School for Specialized Entertainment (officially recognized in 2002).
The other institutions in which the activity of the third period if the Foundation was structured are: Sign Language High School (ISLS) and National School for Orthopedic Technologists (ENA). The Sign Language High School is created with the aim to develop this language in our community, to spread it and to educate professionals adequately, not only official interpreters but also other professionals linked with deaf people. Sign Language Certificate of Higher Education is created in September 2001. In the education of professionals and people connected with hearing impairment there is also a Certificate of University Specialist in Educational and Social Intervention with Deaf People , with the University of Oviedo, and the education from beginners to updating and becoming experts. We also have the National School for Orthopedic Technologists which was created in 2003, supported by all the Spanish entities related to hearing aids, speech therapy and otorhinolaryngology, and with the aim of giving answer to the need of progress in the education and a change of scenery (considering it within the sanitary field) of orthopaedic technologists and, breaking the monopoly existing up to that moment. The Certificate of Higher Education in Orthopedic Technologists has prestige in the whole Spain, requiring professionals from different parts of Spain.
The top moment of this period took place in July 2004. Among all the recognitions received for the work done is the Gold Cross belonging to the Civil Order for Social Solidarity, Government of Spain, which was presented in Zarzuela in 2005. Nevertheless, the true reward is having given Asturias, once more, an efficient service through socio-educational intervention.
Entity of Reference in Advanced Socio-educational Intervention in the lines of comprehensive intervention in deafness, advanced socio-educational intervention with people in extreme personal and social conflict (behaviour and behavioural disorder) and socio-educational intervention with people who have intellectual and psychosocial disability.
To set a date for the beginning of this 4th Era in the Foundation is more difficult than in the previous ones, because there is no rupture or jump in the activity. Nevertheless, we can set it in the year 2005, considering what was done before that date as preparation actions.
The achievement of great part of the aims from the third Era and the transformation of deafness reality in Asturias, due, to a great extent, thanks to it, causes that in June 2004 the Board of Trustees starts considering the appropriateness of designing a new Project of Intervention. They agree that they should continue deepening in the comprehensive intervention of deafness, setting new goals. Furthermore, probably influenced by the good results obtained and by the renovated prestige of the Foundation after this period, it is decided to broaden the intervention to other people and groups who find themselves in a specially difficult situation of personal and social conflict, and with whom our experience and prototype of intervention can be effective.
In March 2005 The Articles of Association are modified, adapting them to the new reality and including in the Board of Trustees a General Manager from the Health and Services Department, completing with this incorporation the presence in the governing board of the Foundation of the three Departments connected to its activity: Health Services, Science and Education and Housing and Social Welfare.
In July 2006 a new line of work is determined: people in a situation of extreme personal and social conflict (behavioural disorders). Finally, in 2007, the development of this new Project of Intervention is approved, including the two new lines, and it is requested from the Managing Director to lead this new era.
Since then, very important, even surprising things, have been done in the implementation and development of the new Project.
The Community Development Centre is totally restructured into a Centre cross-wise to the three lines of intervention and including an Office for Social Action and Accompaniment, the Programme for Social Participation and Community Development and the Programme Vinjoy Community Commitment. The process to define and develop the Centre as cross-wise and supportive axe of the Foundation´s activity finishes in the period 2011-2012.
In reference to the line of comprehensive intervention in deafness, a deep operational and organizational restructuring has started. The Centre for Social and Educational Resources, which includes the Educational Support to Hearing Impairment Programme, the Advanced Social Resources Programme -2010/2011-, the Interpreting Service and the Programme of Sign Language as an Educational Resource –since 2009, has reached students of all levels.
The High Institute for Sign Language Programmes, with a new way of teaching Sign Language, the elaboration of new material and the appearance of new programmes which complement and develop the existing ones: Training of High Technicians in Sign Language Interpretation, deepening in its different fields and specialities –since 2008- Training Programme within the European Languages Framework, with the University of Oviedo –since 2010- and Training and Sign Language Development Programmes, with multiple and different activities. The National School for Hearing Aids Technologists, which becomes established as the principal school in the State, and at the vanguard of hearing aids.
As for the Centres and Programmes in the line of advanced socio-educational intervention in behavioural disorders, they have been established and developed at a surprising rate, so we can confirm that this line of activity is completely established and it has shown more than outstanding results. In 2007 The Centre of Resources for Socio-educational Intervention is constituted and attached to the Specialized Leisure Time School, devoted mainly to voluntary work, completing its activity with Socio-educational Intervention, Consultancy, Technical Assistance and Accompaniment to Projects. The Centre for Socio-educational Intervention with Minors starts its activity in October 2006, with the Programme called “Trampolín” (combined unities for secondary school children who have severe behavioural disorders. It is dependent from the Education and Science Department), committed to be the model and reference of original and efficient response for a group of minors which were “de facto” excluded from the education system, showing, actually, surprising and inspiring results. Furthermore, this Centre has also the “Puente Programme” (socio-educational mediation and accompaniment to Minors in social risk or conflict), which has been functioning since the second semester 2009 and the Programme for Vocational Training, PCPIs and Training Support, starting the first PCPi in this line in September 2013 (Computer Assistant). Likewise, the Institute for Socio-educational Alternatives develops the Programme “Gestionando mi Vida”/ “Handling my life”( support for the autonomy of people with special needs, in particular, support for an independent life, not only housing but also technological support –online counsellor to support their autonomy-), and the Social Transformation Programme (since 2010), which, among its outstanding activities, we have the design and execution of the Socio-sanitary Employment Workshop called ”Con Nosotras”/ “With Us”(women who are alone with familiar responsabilities and no incomes or resources) and the Workshop School “Desde la Calle” (young adults who come from a group with a high level of social exclusion and who become educational assistants, with the aim of working on educational matters in these fields). There are more Projects: “ Casa de San Feliz”, in collaboration with “San Feliz Foundation” or “Espacio EducActivo”, which support working families who are in a situation of social vulnerability.
The line of socio-educational intervention with people who have intellectual or psycho-social disabilities starts, as such, in the last term of 2009, bringing together all the experience and effort of many years, in spite of being a collateral activity in the Foundation. In this line we must outstand the “ Vinjoy Centre of Support for Integration”, which together with Functional Autonomy, Health and Social Skills Programmes, Occupational and Labour Training; Family and Social Programme and one for Personal and Social Development, bring Vinjoy Model of Intervention to Intellectual Disability. And it is already one of the biggest, alternative and of reference in Asturias, suggesting an alternative prototype of action in intellectual or psychosocial disability. Finally, The “Centre for Normalization Through Art” (established in 2010/2011), including Programmes such as “Origin”(”Origen”) (Activities of Social Impact and Behavioural Change), The School for Artistic Activities, which has done several outstanding activities throughout Asturias.
The Foundation has also concurrently developed and enlarged its structure. This way, The Area of Project and Communication includes the Departments of Communication and Relations (the Foundation is actively and significantly present in the media, and participates in different networks of social action, disability, volunteering….) And so on. Among other areas, it carries out the General Secretariat for OEIS, the main business association in the third sector of social action, since 2011, Department of Project Development, TIC Department (online Training Platform, content management platform, webpage, blogs….) and Vinjoy Publisher.
The management Area groups together, Management Department, Professional Team, Quality Management, Legal Affaires and that of External Training Management. Finally, the Area of General Services includes the Administration Department and Secretary´s Office, the Infrastructure and Equipment Department, including the cafeteria and the Reception Department. This structure reaches such levels of efficiency, efficacy and dynamism that it is an exemplary within the organization of social action.
In these complex and difficult times, Vinjoy Foundation wants to continue writing new pages in the social history of Asturias, with the strength, eagerness and ability for which it is known. Vinjoy foundation acts always with a community commitment and with the aim of transforming the reality. For this, the Foundation, always supported by its Social Community, which is actually formed by more than 1000 users, being lots of thousands of beneficiaries and participants in activities throughout Asturias, is putting all its efforts in responding to a reality that needs, more than ever, trustworthy and effective solutions. The Modification of the entities Articles of Association (June 2013), the establishment of a socio-educational Office in Gijón (several areas created with the intention of bringing Gijón closer to the activity of the three lines of intervention and to the activity in the different Centres and Institutes, and also the implementation of the Projects called “Gijón Social and Accesible” in June 2012), “EspacioActivo” (June 2013), extending its training offer, or promoting initiatives such as “Signum” projects and business, the Specialized Employment Agency or the proposal to broaden the interventions in youth justice, social conflict, activities in learning centres, elderly people….. are a tangible proof of this.
Awareness-raising activities with the representatives of the different Political Parties in the Junta General (governing organism in Asturias) and with police, judicial, academic and social authorities.
It is curious that an entity which is celebrating 90 years as a foundation (137 of social activity) is a model of vitality, social innovation, efficiency, dynamism and a leader in the advanced socio-educational model of intervention at the service of the asturian community which needs a solidary attention. It can seem curious, but it is inspiring.
Socio-educational driving force in Asturias.
At the end of 2014 an idea of a new era in the Foundation starts to arise. In the third Era formal educative attention was overcome, reaching comprehensive intervention in deafness in Asturias, in all the possible and necessary dimensions. In the 4th Era the border of addressing an only field, deafness, was overcome, starting to accompany socio-educationally different situations: intellectual disability, mental health problems, minors and young people in social risk situation, social conflict or exclusion. Probably, since the achievement of the goals and the satisfaction of achieving them, it was time to risk everything in order to, coherently, go a step forward.After presenting a road map to the social community, asking for its endorsement and commitment, as it was risking everything once more, the initiative is presented to the Board of Trustees. Operationally, Vinjoy´s fifth Era can be situated in May 2015, with the aim of reinforcing its role as the socio-educational driving force in Asturias (direct intervention, consciousness-raising, social transformation, social influence and community construction). Its aim is also to develop and broaden the advanced educational model of intervention (communication and expanse, internalization, investigation, high education…)
The Community started from the beginning with all the possible passion and efficiency at an extraordinary rate. Some of the objectives fulfilled are:
– Deepening and advancing in each of the Centres, Institutes, Programmes, Projects and Departments. It is to be outlined the consolidation of the Institute for Early Assistance and Monitoring (Centre of national reference), the National School for Hearing Aids Technologists (in which the average of labour insertion is of a few weeks, once the training is finished and being the national leader in this kind of educational training) and the Centre for Community Development (main axe and the heart of all the Foundation´s activity).
– The Sign Language Interpretation Service belonging to the Centre for Social and Educational Resources, becomes the structural Service in Asturias and an outstanding one in the nation, not only for its size but also for its technical quality (2017).
– The High Institute for Sign Language and Communicative Mediation experiences an amazing growth and development. As the Certificate for Higher Education in Sign Language disappears, the new Certificate for Higher Education in Communicative Mediation starts (first Centre in the nation to offer it). The first year graduates in June 2017. With the first National Conference (June 2018) it strengthens its position as the leader institution in the development and establishment of this new profession. In this line the Programme “Comunicatio” appears, for the intervention in communicative mediation. During the year 2017-2018, the first Master in Spanish Sign Language takes place: its implementation in professional fields (with the University of Oviedo), its educational training consolidates according to the European Framework of Reference for Languages (A1, A2, B1,B2 y C1), being responsible for this training in La Casa de Las Lenguas, which belongs to the University of Oviedo, in Padre Ossó University and in multiple training initiatives. In 2018 it starts its way to be able to offer the Degree in Spanish Sign Language Interpretation , in conjunction with the University of Oviedo. Furthermore, it has started its own line of investigation, elaborated new materials, new training formats, level accreditation, in alliance with the Centre for Sign Language Linguistic Normalization (Health Ministry).
– The Centre of Support for Integration consolidates as an alternative of intervention with intellectual disability thanks to the community approach and to the Model implementation, with surprising results. Animal Assisted Therapy, occupational therapy, self-managed cooperatives –glass, pottery, jewellery, maintenance technical tea, perfumes and soaps……., are included, – (as centre of interest, with its own communication structure: “Hecho en casa” (“Home-made”), the Social Theatre, the Programme “Acompañando la Vida”(“Accompanying Life”) (animal and plant care), consolidation of the multi-sports school, of the Programme” Más allá de las aulas”( “Beyond the Classroom”) (leisure time at the weekends), Programmes in the Psycho-Pedagogy Department (from 6 to 12 programmes) and lines of work in labour insertion and accompaniment. There are also other significative actions such as “Sacando Pecho”, European volunteering, participation and self-management system…… It is extended up to 5 different transport routes to the different areas and villages in Asturias.
– The Centre of Normalization through Art becomes an example, mainly in community awareness-raising with actions of high social impact, art therapy and personal and community development with people who suffer from mental health problems.
– The Centre of Socio-educational Intervention with Minors consolidates the Basic Vocational Training Cycle (ICT), as the start point of vital and future itineraries, with recognised results. The Programme “Trampolín” is significantly extended and has now three unities of Support for Severe Alterations in Behaviour (2017) and extending to two transport routes (which ensures covering 70% of Asturias). An structural Programme of Intervention with Families and Open Space (2018) is also implemented, and new initiatives are included: “ Accompanying Life Project” (animals and plants), Social Theatre, Online activities and Meditation, among others. The “Puente” Programme is consolidated as an alternative and unique answer for minors in social risk situation, with excellent results. In the Centre for Socio-educational Intervention we must stand out, not only the Training activities (Specialized Leisure Time School and Specific Training Programme), but also a line of investigation of minors and young people in situations of risk or social conflict (PHD, articles, communication and training actions, technical support….).
– The Institute for Socio-educational Alternatives, as a cross-wise Centre, becomes the seed and driving force of multiple unique initiatives: Department of Orientation and Labour Insertion ( Employment Agency and Programme of Accompaniment to Employment, specialized in people with disabilities or in situation of exclusion and difficult employability), with extraordinary results; Europe Programme (Erasmus Card/letter for Higher Education, Accreditation as Volunteering European Service, which leads the volunteering of people with disabilities, International Projects and Alliances, Good Practices…); Workshop School “Desde la Calle” (“From the Street”), which imply the creation of the profession known as Socio-educational Technician. “Armonía Project” (Socio-educational and Socio-labour Intervention in Severe Mental Health Problems with Adolescences and young people): Project “Construyendo un Nosotros Plural e Inclusivo” (“Building a plural and inclusive “we””)… of awareness-raising and social transformation; Higher Educational and International Training Cooperation, which includes Expert or Specialist Courses (University of Oviedo/ Facultad Padre Ossó), specific training and implementation of the Model to different fields such as Mental Health, Sexual Abuse in Vulnerable Groups, Intellectual Disability, Minor in Social Conflict or risk, Early Assistance, Personal Resources.
In regard to the area of Project and Communication, outline the external and internal job done by the Communication System Department. We must highlight the positioning and principal participation in the Asturian community, as a socio-educational example; the activity in social networks, Vinjoy Meetings; which represent a regular and constant activity of raising- awareness and approach to the social reality of the different social fields that have made Vinjoy a space to meet and work together: politics (all and each of the groups, specially, the regional parliament ), administration, the media, members of the judiciary, university, the business world, social and union representatives, State Security Forces and Bodies, cultural world…. The Project “Incidiendo en la Política Social” (“Influencing in Social Politics” (2019), the Project “La Comunidad Social Estrella de Comunicación” (“Social Community Main Communication Agent”) (2018) and the Project “Mostrando Nuestra Realidad” (“Showing our Reality”) (2019). We should also highlight the communicative tools created.
The Model and Development of the Project Department took charge of the annual and operative orientation and strategic planification, and of the Model implementation in all the actions and teams. It also took charge of the elaboration of materials and tools of support (The Project “Creciendo” (“Growing”) must be outlined, in the shadow of our model of intervention).
The Vinjoy Publishers Department, (own publisher for the design, publishing coordination, edition and communication of projects) and the Technical System Department (Advanced Web Page, blogs, social networks, `progress in the use of technological support, specific training, online training support, safety, computer equipment, -computerized management- and implementation in socio-educational intervention) did an extraordinary and cross-wise job.
–The Management Area and the General Services Department, with the implementation of the Model to its field of action, also helps to create a unique and alternative reality. Integrated in the Management and Professional Team Department (administrative and team management), in the Quality Management Department (activity management through an own Quality Community System), in the Legal Affaires Department (an own normative structure, legal matters and assurance of the fulfilment of regulations and agreements), in the Administration Department and the Secretary´s Office and in the Reception Department, it becomes a very efficient and strong working structure.
– Due to the activity dimension, new structures and equipment are needed: The premises are extended with the construction of an educational space in arcades (classes and offices); converting the garage in a multi-purpose workshop; construction of equipment for the Orientation, Labour Insertion and Internalization Service; extension of spaces for the Centre of Normalization through Art (office, workshop, classes) and, in the near future, the equipment for the Multipurposes Meeting Room and the Dining room. Regarding the outdoor space, the Principality of Asturias transfers to the Foundation an annexed plot of land of 6178 square meters, where the Social Community Square (covered) and the project “Accompanying Life” (greenhouse, sheephold, toolshed, fruit forest…) are built. The entrance to the Foundation is also extended, a new parking area transferred from the Services and Social Rights Office , is added (parking D), accessibility is improved , the passages are covered with artificial grass and new spaces are created as meeting points and where leisure activities take place.
– In February 2019 the new operational stage of an important cross-cutting project starts, the Project “Armonía” (“Harmony”), for young people with a severe mental health problem, being a complementary resource of the Health Service Department in the Principality of Asturias. Preceding this stage, there was another one for its design, organization, endowment of legal status and funding which lasted two years.
Vinjoy Foundation is the real example of the fact that the community approach and the implementation of an advanced socio-educational model of intervention can successfully deal with different situations which require a solidary attention, and can even be an important element of social and community transformation and development. Therefore, our present and future challenge is to be able to show, implement, create and export this approach, already validated, with the aim of expanding its potential and value.