Pilot Action University of Calabria

Round table promoting networking on volunteering and migrations in Calabria (March 2019)

The first event was organized as a half-day round table on 15 March 2019 at the University of Calabria, with the title “Volunteering and migration. What paths to encourage participation, solidarity and cooperation?” (Volontariato e migrazioni. Quali percorsi per favorire la partecipazione, la solidarietà e la cooperazione?). It was a networking event among civil society organisations at a regional level in order to have a collective confrontation on the issue of volunteering, in an informal way, and to identify relevant aspects and issues to be addressed in subsequent events. 

The event gathered 23. attendants, among others from local civil society organisations (11), public bodies,  citizens and migrants. The event was opened with a presentation of VAI and the results of the study at national and regional level, highlighting some critical aspects.

Workshops on best practices and innovation programmes for territorial sustainable development (November 2019)

The second event was organized as a half-day event on 11 November 2019 at the University of Calabria, with the title “Migration and volunteering: cooperation and innovation for territorial development” (Migrazioni e volontariato: cooperazione e innovazione per lo sviluppo territoriale). It focused on the processes of inclusion and participation of migrants and refugees, and on the opportunities for social innovation and sustainable development of the territories, as new forms of cooperation and business, which can also involve local communities and institutions.

The event gathered 68 attendants, among others from local civil society organisations, the academic community (including researchers and students). The event was opened with a presentation of VAI and the results of the study at national and regional level, and was then organized in two sessions, in which four different experiences and case studies of volunteering and cooperation involving migrants and refugees together with the local community, in internal or marginal areas (nationally distributed), were presented. The case studies were commented by expert discussants. 

Alberto Mossino as president of PIAM Onlus (Migrants Reception Integration Project) presented the association that deals with the reception and integration of migrants. Established in Asti in 1999 to support migrant women victims of trafficking and exploitation, PIAM has created reception centers to welcome migrant women by guaranteeing them, through the implementation of activities aimed at building practical and linguistic skills, the activation of work placements, training courses and meetings organized with the collaboration of local authorities, economic and social integration. Since 2011 it has also promoted the SPRAR project for refugees and asylum seekers, through which it has experimented with innovative forms of widespread reception. PIAM has promoted several projects for social inclusion, converting migrants’ reception into a “resource” for territories in marginal areas suffering degradation and depopulation. In 2014 PIAM and the COALA Consortium set up a project for the restoration and conservation of Piedmontese agri-food productions. An ancient building granted on free loan for use by the oblates of San Giuseppe, Villa Quaglina, was recovered and converted into a refugee reception center. By the involvement of the hosted migrants, six hectares of land until then abandoned were recover and cultivated again. The activation of training courses and job placement programs provided the skills to the migrants involved who were employed, in collaboration with a local farm, in the production of octophilic maize, a local high quality variety. In 2016, a project was launched to recover an ancient vineyard and for the production of Modibò wine and, in February 2019, by the collaboration with the Agricultural Institute of Asti, the migrants hosted at Villa Quaglina were involved in viticulture training courses. Since 2016 PIAM has also been the managing body of the SPRAR “Agape” project, involving 6 municipalities and coordinated by the Municipality of Chiusano d’Asti. The project permitted the employment of several migrants hosted, previously selected and trained, in safety and maintenance interventions in the local territory. In 2017 the “Terre di Monale” project was started, involving in particular African women victims of trafficking, which participated in theoretical and practical training courses on manual modeling and artisan techniques for working with ceramics, aimed at creating high quality crockery of the local tradition. In 2019 PIAM, in collaboration with various associations and local administrations initiated the “8 Basso Monferrato project for the recovery and enhancement of rural trails for the valorization of the local natural and cultural heritage. The migrant beneficiaries of the SPRAR project have been involved and employed in the maintenance and cleaning activities. Finally, PIAM has set up socialization workshops that involved migrants and Alzheimer’s patients. A body percussion workshop was held in Villa Quaglina and created opportunities for meeting, knowing and breaking down stereotypes and prejudices. According to Mossino, “we cannot ask people who come here to escape hunger and war to volunteer or work for free. Asylum seekers must not volunteer in a return logic. Then you can ask people to get them involved, but not in ways to save money or as a form of blackmail. if we make these guys working for free we are getting them used to servitude”.

Giulia Galera, researcher at the Euricse Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises, presented 3 distinct reception and integration models, according to the involvement of different actors and patterns of reception and integration at local level: the one promoted by the K-Pax cooperative in the Valle Camonica, the Cadore cooperative in Cadore, and the public one promoted by CINFORMI (operating arm of the province which, however, relies heavily on local social enterprises) in Trentino. These 3 reception models share some characteristics: they were able to transform the expenditure for the reception into investment in human capital, that favored in part the economic and social integration of some people; they were able to set the reception according to a vision of territorial development concerning all the inhabitants, both the locals and the migrants, as well as resources; all 3 are characterized by a strong public-private network logic, with the involvement of both profit and non-profit organizations; they have a very strong attitude to experiment with new services, new forms of living, new tools to bring out and analyze the skills of asylum seekers, new strategies of cooperation between public and private actors. Giulia Galera is also among the promoters of Miledù (that in the Togo language means “being together”), a social enterprise established in 2019 in Como with the aim of facilitating the job and social inclusion of people at risk of social and work exclusion, respecting the environment and traditional knowledge. Miledù started from some experiences initiated by different organizations in the Como area in 2017-2018, with the aim of promoting a common path of entrepreneurial and cultural development in three economic sectors: cultivation of edible flowers, restoration of dry stone walls and cleaning of trails, and beekeeping. These projects have pursued the objective of contrasting abandonment and degradation and improving the usability of public areas, activating a community care of the territory through shared management of spaces, enhancing local environmental and social resources. The “Apicoltura Solidale” (“Solidarity beekeeping”) project, promoted by Auser-Como together with numerous Como organizations, provided training courses for those wishing to undertake the activity of beekeeper, involving migrants, local beekeepers and civil society, and built a beekeeping plant on the Garzola hill and of an urban beekeeping in the Rebbio district. The voluntary work of the migrants allowed the recovery of abandoned terraces for agriculture. Miledù will organize the production of honey and beeswax, and the cultivation of an aromatic garden, with aromatic herbs and edible flowers, also to create opportunities for interaction between asylum seekers and the local community. Finally, it will continue with the maintenance of the green areas and the trails. The legal form of social enterprise permits to combine the entrepreneurial dimension with the social and inclusive dimensions. The form of the social enterprise was in fact designed to support and accompany asylum seekers and refugees towards autonomy and job integration. The objective is to balance business with social and no-profit aims, weighing paid work and voluntary work.

Professor Domenico Cersosimo (University of Calabria) commented on the two experiences by identifying four key-words. Resources: without expenditure of economic resources there is no development. In these cases, there are some resources that come through channels that are not for development, and there is the subjectivity or the political ability of the local groups to see in that resources the possibility of activating another thing, with results very different from those initially thought. Network: There is a network, the population, those who remain, those who leave, new citizens; and there also are leaders, facilitators, a group of people who pull. Experimentation: there are no recipes, local development is by definition the opposite of extravert development, and development from above. Precisely because it is local, development is rooted, it feeds on those feelings, places, passions, local opportunities that it is impossible to be able to enclose in a model. There is a need for experimentation, to try and try again. Local development is fueled by patience. Local development is not done everywhere, it is done where whoever wants it activates it, but it is not a recipe that can be given anywhere. Unlike the more structured and managerial models, it also has a lot to do with people, with feelings, with the desire to question and experiment, to build, you want the future and you build it and don’t wait someone build it for you. Local development presupposes protagonists, not “the protagonist”, it is complicated. Local development is by definition open and connected to something else. It is not just localism, self-representation, self-containment, autarky, psychic and localistic sovereignty; of course the editor is local, the need is local, the design is local and whoever assembles it is local, but it does not mean that there must be no external contributions, rare and sophisticated skills from outside. Autonomy, not closure. Development can be built on the needs of people. Starting from needs we can build work. The prospect is to structure relationships on work and wages, on the identity that work builds. Often in fragile places there is no sector, there is no initiative, but it is necessary to build a network of initiatives, multifunctionality and multisectoriality, and all this works by stratification. There are skills that evolve with people and needs. Local development is to connect the needs of new arrivals with the needs of the locals. There is particular attention to nature care and people care. Through the care of nature, very interesting things can arise for life and everyday life. A double cure, caring for people is like caring for a forest, caring for a wood is like caring for people.

Angelo Moretti president of the Consortium “Sale della Terra” (Salt of the Earth), opened the second session. The Consortium is made up of about 15 organizations – cooperatives, associations, social enterprises, community cooperatives (5) and the Caritas of Benevento with a leading role. Established in 2016, the Consortium promoted a micro ecosystem of civil economy to generate income and employment opportunities in the touristic, agricultural and handicraft sectors. In 2017, the Consortium adopted the “Manifesto for a network of small Welcome Municipalities”, which commits the 26 municipalities, located in inner areas in 3 regions, to be involved in welcome activities, supportive and open. The Manifesto has the purpose of creating a municipal welfare, in which citizens, local institutions and third sector subjects create inclusive forms of reception, creating opportunities for the regeneration and redevelopment of the territories. The activity of the Consortium is also the guarantor of correct and integrated management of resources, through the use of existing local development tools to promote social cohesion. The organizations participating in the Consortium are engaged in activities with and for migrants benefiting from the SPRAR projects. They have created a model that “grasps” and “welcomes”: seizing the opportunities to develop solidarity economy activities to cope with the crisis, by welcoming, integrating, hosting migrants and refugees. New community cooperatives and collective projects based on solidarity and mutualism and were created in towns located in inner areas (Petruro Irpino and Roccabascerana) involving locals and migrants to contrast depopulation and abandonment processes and revitalize the local territory. The migrants and locals involved recovered uncultivated lands donated by some inhabitants; organically grown products (frescoditerra.it) are distributed within the network of the consortium and by a local retailer. The recovery of buildings has allowed the creation of diffuse hotels for experiential tourism routes. The presence of migrants has also led to the activation of specific services, i.e. a bus service, which are enjoyed by both migrants and natives. A short video was played.

Rosario Zurzolo, president of the Eurocoop-Jungi Mundu cooperative, presented the widespread reception SPRAR project managed in the Camini town since 2010. The presence of migrants allowed the reactivation of basic services suppressed following the depopulation that affected the area, as the post office, the school, the bus line, and the opening of a bar and commercial activities, the establishment of a toy library, an educational farm and a baby parking service. The migrants, together with the locals, have recovered and renovated the abandoned houses, now used as Albergo Diffuso. Through the “Camini Ivory” project, created with the involvement of Ivorian migrants, over 1,000 liters of extra virgin olive oil have been produced, recovering abandoned land and using organic and sustainable farming practices. The promotion of local products, and the recovery of ancient crafts and ancient processing techniques, have also been enhanced through the activation of specific artisan educational workshops including cooking workshops, wood, painting, tailoring, wrought iron, ceramic and soap – using the oil produced on site. Camini welcomes volunteers in the historic center and hosts them in houses renovated by the community. Eurocoop Camini “Jungi Mundu” participate in the European Solidarity Corps program. The project “Camini Corps: Chance – Creativity – Community for Solidarity Actions” focuses on youth participation and empowering minors and young people, within comprehensive social inclusion projects for the hospitality and integration of migrants and refugees. The main development objective is to improve the living conditions and the social inclusion of the most disadvantaged people (young people with disabilities, children at risk, displaced persons, those with health or economic challenges, other vulnerable categories, etc) and to respond to wider challenges. A video presenting the transnational mobility project #GOOD4YOUth coordinated by Eurocoop Camini “Jungi Mundu”, bringing together over 50 young people and youth workers from 8 European countries (Spain, Romania, Italy, Greece, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Malta) followed.

Chiara Davoli is a member of the UNHCR team “integration”. The team operates in three regions, Calabria, Piedmont, Emilia Romagna, and in Rome, with the aim of promoting the active participation of refugees and asylum seekers in public life, access to public services (education, health, financial services) and job inclusion, i.e. the Welcome program provides an interregional mobility, especially for refugees with high skills; social inclusion, i.e. with the national civil service, that is like an internship paid and is used to experiment in the labour market, especially in the no-profit sector. UNHCR supports refugee volunteering with two kind programs, addressing the volunteering of people in reception, or with migrants’ associations where there are people who have reached a certain autonomy and felt the need to organize locally,  also to provide basic services. To stimulate the for the active participation of refugees and territories, UNHCR has been funding the program “PartecAzione” for 2 years; UNIRE has been created as the first national association that brings together all the refugee associations. ARCI Djiguiya is a member of UNIRE based in Crotone (Crotone). A short video was showed. Another program managed in collaboration with ARCI collects and shows on an interactive map all the services available to refugees in Italy; many of them are provided by refugee associations (in Cosenza there is DAAWA). Finally, concerning inner areas, in Calabria a regional law of 2009 addresses the issue of the reception of asylum seekers and refugees together with the social, economic and cultural development of the local communities. UNHCR is monitoring the projects approved under the law.

Workshop on best practices and innovation programmes of volunteering and solidarity (November 2019)

The third event was organized as a half-day workshop on 21 November 2019 at the University of Calabria, with the title “Migration and volunteering: which opportunities and challenges for cooperation and solidarity?” (Migrazioni e volontariato: quali opportunità e sfide per la cooperazione e la solidarietà?). In the light of the analysis of different experiences and territorial contexts, the third event focused on the transformation processes related to the actors, the motivations and the forms of volunteering and solidarity in relation to migration, and on the implications arising, especially in terms of inclusion, response to needs and social cohesion.

Workshops on best practices and innovation programmes against the criminalization of solidarity and migrations (November 2019)

The third event was organized as a two-day workshop on 21-22 November 2019, in the afternoon, at the University of Calabria (Rende) and the headquarters of the association La Terra di Piero, (Cosenza) with the title “Against the criminalization of migrants and solidarity: for a new cooperation” (contro la criminalizzazione dei migranti e della solidarietà: per una nuova cooperazione). The fourth event focused on the processes of criminalization of solidarity and the forms of social and non-governmental cooperation that emerged to cope with the security regulation of migration and the political rhetoric of reactionary populism in the current control regime, and on the prospects of alternative constructions.