Social Emergency Centers for 140 More Cities

Social emergency centers have so far been established in 197 cities.Social emergency centers have so far been established in 197 cities.

Social emergency centers will open in another 140 cities and a budget of $26.3 million (1,000 billion rials) has been earmarked for the purpose in the sixth economic development plan (2017-22), said Habibollah Masoudi Farid, deputy for social affairs at the State Welfare Organization (SWO).

Speaking on the sidelines of a SWO meeting on Saturday in Arak, Markazi Province, he said the centers will open in cities with populations of more than 50,000.

“About 40% of the amount will be spent on the centers and equipping them with vans, and the remaining on employment of psychologists, social workers, and other staff,” IRNA quoted him as saying.

Such centers have so far been established in 197 cities and there are more than 300 “social emergency vans.” The number of centers will reach 337 once the scheme is implemented.

According to Hussein Asad Beigi, head of the Social Emergency Office at the SWO, in big cities the centers offer 24-hour services, but in smaller cities they function only during regular office hours.

Those who want to report cases of social abuse, including domestic violence and child abuse, suicide attempts, runaway girls, and other social problems can dial the social emergency hotline 123, where experts offer counseling by phone or attend in person the scene of violence or abuse.

Masoudi Farid said during the first 11 months of the current year (ends March 20), 600,000 calls were made to the 123 hotline of which 150,000 were relevant, with 5.8% or 12,000 of the calls related to child abuse  and 5.7% (11,000) to spousal abuse. “Our centers resort to emergency relocation of children and abused individuals when necessary.”

About 4,500 cases of suicide attempts were also reported during the period and nearly all were attended to immediately “after our experts went to the scene and offered necessary interventions and counseling.”

It can be seen that whenever a suicide attempt is reported, the social emergency teams arrive in a short time for crisis intervention, he added.

The Social Emergency Office was established in 2008 for the first time to offer social and psychological services exclusively to people at risk of social harm.

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