ECONOMY - SOCIAL ISSUES

How can we face growing levels of poverty?

 

Associazione Progetto Insieme was born in 1991, in Lodi, to face growing levels of poverty. Within the volunteer world of the city of Lodi, this association is a very important reality. It is known and appreciated by all of the people involved in social issues and its activities have a main aim: every person. 

The Association wants to put an end to hardship and marginalization but also to find solutions, even simple, allowing women and men to regain their human worth and to become active in a society in which people in the margins become more and more excluded and exploited for political reasons. 

From the beginning this association of volunteers cared for marginalized people, asking itself a single question: how can we be “together” with these people, to help them to overcome their condition and ease their loneliness? This gave birth to the idea to activate different services for the most deprived people, whatever their origin might be. 

Thanks to the volunteers, Associazione Progetto Insieme set up many fast growing services for these people. The first one was the table for the poor in collaboration with Caritas Lodigiana and volunteers. In 2018 it provided approximately 25k meals!

The dormitory is also remarkable. It has been created to get as many people as possible off the street, at least during the night and particularly during winter. Thanks to the Lodi local authority, that offers equipped spaces with a gratuitous loan, the association with Caritas Lodigiana and the Comune di Lodi can host 42 people in winter and 30 people in summer. This includes the management of a free public showers service that provides hot water and hygiene products for 30 people. 

What really characterizes the mission of the association, is the will to create a direct link with those who want to use these services. What is of the utmost importance is that every single person should be treated as a human being with a name and a story to share: “listening” is the key that gives sense to all the activities. 

The growing social unrest has made the association consider creating new paths to guide those that are trying to stand on their feet again after any kind of “fall”, those faced with a social-economical crisis or fleeing from their country, to a new autonomy. 

To attain this end and to start a new future, everyone needs a house: that’s why the association provides several apartments, through legacies and donations or for rent, to people who are trying to structure their life. 

To this end in 2011 Progetto Insieme began managing the SPRAR/SIPROIMI project, the Italian Ministry of Interior’s asylum system for beneficiaries of international protection and for unaccompanied foreign minors. Over 7 years, 35 people, families, women and men, were accompanied along a path to integration whose main aim is to make them regain their independence. 

Another action for single people regards the management and allocation of 5 one-room flats, offered from the local authority through a gratuitous loan scheme: those who begin work but cannot yet afford to pay a rent can start to live on their own, assisted by a tutor that drives them and support them in the early stages of managing a house. The hospitality has an average duration of 12 months, enough to grant enough time to gain autonomy and to allow the guest to look for a house. 

Through a Social Housing project 5 flats are granted by the parish of Cavenago d’Adda, a small town near Lodi. Families joining the project will pay low costs for the house and may live there for 18 months. They will be supported by a tutor that will maintain good relations between all the guests and will act as a point of reference for all kinds of problems, from relational to managerial ones. 

There are other 2 apartments given by the Addolorata parrish, in Lodi. These are rent for free to single mothers with children, for about 18 months. For poor families, if possible with even one member with a job, it is available for longer periods: there are 7 flats that the association offers for 4 years and an additional 4 with 50% lower fees. 

Progetto Insieme also cooperates with a group of families in Lodi allowing 23 children from Chernobyl to come to Italy every year for their holidays. During this time for, children can even receive health care. 

The association also leads the project of the food collection and distribution center, in collaboration with several cooperatives and the local authorities. They are involved in collecting food from schools and some markets around the city of Lodi with the aim of redistributing unused food to 2k families in and near Lodi. Families are chosen on the basis of financial criteria. 

Within the association, all the volunteers know that the “other”, whoever she or he is, needs to be protected as human being to be treated with dignity, respect and love.