... and volunteering
To face the extreme marginality of the homeless, the Municipality of Turin is not alone. It can count on the help of associations, cooperatives, and widespread voluntarism. This is the case, for example, of: Cottolengo, Sermig, Bartolomeo & C., Gruppo Abele, Opportunanda, Servizi Vincenziani, Casa Santa Luisa. Alongside them there is also the Turin committee of the Italian Red Cross, with whom we spent two nights: the first in a "street service", and the second at the night reception center in piazza Massaua 18.
Four volunteers were waiting for us, at the committee in via Bologna 171: Elena, Raoni, Ivana and Simone. «The "street service" is included in the 2020 strategic objectives of the Italian Red Cross - explains Elena - with which the association has established areas of intervention, based on the analysis of the needs and vulnerabilities of the people we serve every day, inspired by the fundamental principles of the movement. We have two weekly shifts, thus giving the change to the various associations active in the area. Getting closer to the users of this service is not easy. We bring some cookies, some hot tea - something to try to gain their trust. And then we are listening to them, spending time with them».
«Red Cross is not just the ambulance service: there are many other activities, such as assisting the homeless. We use a committee van, with the association's emblem clearly visible, and equip it with food, blankets, clothing, food, hot tea and a health backpack. The tour lasts about three hours, and we have different routes, which we decide on the basis of the previous shifts».
During the "street service" we were able to follow the volunteers in their action: the homeless trust them, and trust the Red Cross uniform. We approached to some, while many others rushed to the volunteer truck. They are looking for food and information, or just a moment of sharing, listening, socializing.
During the cold emergency period there's a need of blankets. These are a fundamental tool for the "Street Service", valuable material for the homeless, and a means of establishing a relationship of trust with them. Anyone who has blankets, throws, and duvets in good condition to donate can send an e-mail to the Turin committee of the Red Cross.Contact the committee
Emergency Dormitory in Piazza Massaua 18
We then visited the emergency dormitory in piazza Massaua 18. There, Erika Allasio, our liaison in the Red Cross service, was waiting for us.
Time before we had been told that the dormitory was in poor hygiene conditions. It actually looks rundown, but clean and tidy: however, they knew of our arrival. The homeless people hosted that night, with whom we spoke a lot, confirmed that the cleanliness and comfort of the dormitory are far from optimal.
«The dormitory is divided in two parts - explains Erika Allasio - one in which there are 32 beds for homeless who are sent by the "adult in difficulty" service and by the "Boa notturna", and the other with 14 beds in which we welcome the unaccompanied foreign minors. We keep them divided to avoid arguments between them. Then we have a room where the homeless can stay until midnight, before going to sleep, where they smoke, chat, spend time together, even with us».
The dormitory is open from 7pm for minors, and from 8pm for adults, until 8am of the following morning. Users can register themselves in the waiting lists, and then go directly to the structure. Every time a bed becomes available, the users on the list are contacted, in order of registration, and fixed places are assigned for about two months. After that, those who are included in a socio-working path move to another suitable structure.
With Massaua, and the first reception shelters, the goal is to offer a safe space in which to spend the night, and direct the homeless to the services of the Municipality.
Massaua 18 Shelter
At the dorm we met Livio and Ramon
«I have a brother, who has hosted me a few times, but he has a family and he doesn't have such a big house. I don't want to weigh on him. But the dorm sucks, and many users have no respect for themselves and others. I hope soon to find a job that I can perform despite my problems, and a salary to be independent».
The mobile "Boa notturna" of the municipality of Turin
The "Boa notturna" of the Municipality of Turin is a service that consists in combing the neighborhoods and streets of the city to provide assistance to the homeless. We went out one night with them: we talked with them.
hospitality house in via Ghedini 6
The educator Massimo Petrantoni tells us about the structure of via Ghedini 6 in Turin
Inside the hospitality house in via Ghedini 6 there is a notable project: "Building Beauty", a permanent interdisciplinary laboratory aimed at the social inclusion of people in conditions of serious marginalization and homelessness, through participatory processes and creative languages. We interviewed the coordinator, Cristian Campagnaro, architect and professor at the Polytechnic of Turin.
The coordinator of the project "Building Beauty", Cristian Campagnaro
Design, art, crafts, cooking: the workshops produce objects and services that are useful to the project participants. Well-being is created, also for neighborhood communities, in the direction of new forms of territorial development, and new meaningful relationships.
"Doing together" becomes a means of "being together", giving oneself opportunities for knowledge and collaboration, beyond any stereotype.