They are Europe too: Reception and Integration of Immigrants and Homeless people

‘They are Europe too: Reception and Integration of Immigrants and Homeless people’ is an EVS-project that will engage 4 European volunteers for 10 months (6 january 2015) in the association Arcisolidarietà in the city of Rovigo.
Rovigo is located in the North-East of Italy. It is a relatively small city (little over 50.000 inhabitants) situated in the region Veneto, very close to some of the most important and beautiful cities in Italy: Venice, Padova, Bologna and Firenze, easily reachable by train. Other places of interest in the area are: the regional park Delta del Po, the Dolomite mountains, the Polesine countryside (great for bike rides) and the beach. The volunteers will stay in an appartment close the historical centre of Rovigo and they will get a bycicle to move around the city. In 2000 the association Arcisolidarietà was born in Rovigo to promote the idea of solidarity, especially regarding homeless people, refugees and immigrants, through local initiatives and projects.
Europe is facing a lot of challenges: the social-economic crisis, the political divisions and the pressure of migrants (from the South and the East, who run away from wars and poverty). Through its participation in the Erasmus + program and involving European volunteers, Arcisolidarietà hopes to reflect upon and develop the role Europe has in this historical moment, as an agent of peace and protector of human rights. The goal of this project is thus to increase awareness within the young generations about the different aspects of immigration to Europe (in particular to Italy), to experience and develop possible ways of living together harmoniously with the ‘new European citizens’ (ed. refugees and other immigrants), to encourage a culture of reception and solidarity and to promote active citizenship in young people. The project will reflect on issues like racism, the expansion of the European union and its values (etc. freedom, democracy and human rights), poverty and immigration and through the experience of the concrete actions of Arcisolidarietà in a small reality like Rovigo, make the volunteers protagonists of the current European context.

The main activities of the association are threefold. Firstly, to promote informative and cultural initiatives of sensitization, in collaboration with other associations, about peace, human rights, immigration and homelessness in order to create an urban environment that’s more open and tolerant (organization of multicultural events, distributing information through flyers, website and informal meetings). Secondly, to manage the reception facilities of the association and to assist its guest towards integration and autonomy: the homeless shelter ARCOBALENO (can host 7 men and 2 women for up to 1 month); the residential housing structures (second reception): LA CASA DELLA PACE (can host 4 men for up to 6 months), LA COCCINELLA (can host 4 women with or without children for periods up to 6 to 8 months) and LA ROSA DEI VENTI (a collective reception structure for families, made available for housing emergencies (evictions, overcrowding of families without home) and the reception of asylum seekers). Thirdly, the management of the training and integration project ‘La Formichina’: a work place where different activities take place like ironing, sowing, an internet point and a social bycicle repair workshop. Recently, also a Time Bank was created, an initiative proposed by a EVS-volunteer. Volunteers will have the opportunity to participate in all of the association’s activities described above.

During the project the volunteers will be able to acquire and develop following skills that will help them in their personal and professional life: linguistic skills (through learning italian and teaching their own language), digital competences (website, facebook, grafic material for promotion of activities, video..), organizational competences and sense of entrepreneurship (organization of events, initiatives, promotion of activities), research, manual work (bycicle repair, sowing etc.), social and cultural skills (working with homeless people and immigrants) and communication skills (collaborating with institutions and other associations, communicating with people with different cultural backgrounds). Additionally, they will acquire knowledge about issues like migration in Europe, human rights, European and Italian law etc. The concrete and everyday work with immigrants and homeless people, will create more tolerance and understanding of other cultures and realities than that of the volunteer. This will develop a critical attitude which he/she will take home to his/her country of origin to further help the integration project.