Italy : a “shared house” to homeless people
“A shared house” is an emergency shelter project which started in autumn 2011 as part of a round table for action against poverty in communities in Emilia-Romagna, in which several charitable organisations, including the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, took part.
A shared house: A welcome and integration project
At the start of the project, the local authority provided five, fully-equipped apartments for the homeless, with day-to-day management for the first residents being taken on by the network of local organisations.
Cassiano Tabanelli has been a Vincentian volunteer since he was young, and is now president of the Imola Central Council. A few years ago he set up a youth conference which helped to bring about this integration project. He explains his commitment: “I came across the Society when I was at school, age 16. At that time, I joined the adult conference in my parish. A few years later, as a university student, I had the opportunity to form a youth conference, and then became president of the Central Council of Imola, covering the towns of Lugo and Imola. […] Along with the youth conference, we took part in the shared house project, and renovated the apartments, painting and furnishing the rooms”.
Shared work: a project partnered with several organisations
As part of this project, many tasks were undertaken with the efforts of the different organisations involved who exchanged and shared volunteers: members of the Scalaberni Foundation, the SSVP, the Welcome Family and the Solidarity Centre organised collection of supplies such as clothing, food, bikes and pushchairs, etc.), while volunteers from other organisations also worked along with the people to help with their social integration into the community.
This partnership initiative established contacts among the various organisations already present, thus avoiding duplication of effort.
Cassiano believes that this shared house project has been a positive experience: “it is interesting how the young volunteers have taken responsibility for it, and the various bodies have cooperated (organisations, the town, volunteers). The other factor is that thanks to the project, the beneficiaries of the accommodation have gained independence, become active in their own social integration. It is a project forming social bonds that have enriched the community”.
This accommodation project is an example of the kind of work taking place around the world to help vulnerable people. But the vocation of the SSVP and its volunteers goes much further than such simple projects of material support. The aim is to build real, long-term structures, and encourage social reintegration of the people whom we assist.
For more info about the project : http://www.sanvincenzoitalia.it/