‘Nobody Left Behind’, EMERGENCY’s social project in Milan, takes a new form
Since January this year, we have been running a project in the poorest neighbourhoods of greater Milan, to help people take advantage of social services that are effectively out of bounds to a large swathe of the city’s population.
The immediate beneficiaries of the project are the same kind of people we helped through ‘Nobody Left Behind’. There are about 2,000 of them, and each is struggling to get the social services and welfare they are entitled to, in terms of work, housing, education and financial help like benefits and tax breaks.
In the first wave of the Covid-19 crisis, we handed out free food and basic goods to redress a material need. This second phase of our project concerns households who have already had that support and are once more making ends meet, and need help reconstructing their lives and winning back their financial independence.
Giving everyone the chance to develop to the fullest is in keeping with the principles of our Constitution and of fundamental rights.
It is the Italian state’s responsibility to pull down the socio-economic barriers that deny its citizens freedom and equality and stop them developing to the fullest as humans and taking part in the political, economic and social life of their country.Article 3 of the Italian Constitution
Barriers to social aid
There’s a great deal preventing access to social aid, both public and private. People may be uninformed of whether and how they can use social services, or not have the documents they need, and that’s not to mention red tape and the language barrier.
This all comes on top of a culture of marginalisation, which has the effect of turning people away from any form of social help.
Empathy and trust – taking care of every single household
Switchboard and Minivan
To maximise direct contact between its beneficiaries and our staff, our project has a special switchboard, run by EMERGENCY, which people can call for information or to arrange a meeting with one of our social workers.
We meet people in person in tents set up for the purpose, and in EMERGENCY’s Minivan, more of a specially kitted-out camper van with GPS, which visits the poorer neighbourhoods of Milan at specific times.
Both are closely linked to the distribution points for the ‘No one left out’ packages, to make it easier to communicate and form bonds with those we help. Whenever we meet people, we follow current rules for limiting the spread of Covid-19.
Help with and accompaniment to local services
We give each person a programme of support, with a view to integrating them fully into society. This begins with information, according to the individual’s needs, be it on healthcare, employment, public and private services in the area (like the tax office, workers’ associations and council offices) or dealings with other organisations.
The project also involves helping people fill in forms properly, so they can go through the necessary bureaucracy to get to the services they are entitled to. We also monitor how well they get on, meeting them regularly or giving them a quick phone call, which builds trust and ensures their eventual success.
EMERGENCY’s aim is to help the most vulnerable people overcome cultural and language barriers and untangle a convoluted and often patchy administrative system, to get to the services they have a right to. It is not our intention to replace existing local services in any way, merely to bridge the gaps that stop people using them at present.
The project is carefully coordinated to follow a process of receiving a person’s request, talking to and informing them, then guiding them until they overcome whatever barriers they have in front of them. We want everyone we help to be integrated and allow themselves to develop fully, with the tools to hand to become independent. Our approach seeks to make access to public and private services equal and inclusive, for people struggling in Milan, be they Italians or foreigners.
We run the project in partnership with Brigate Volontarie per l’Emergenza, who have been with us since the very height of the pandemic. They hand out the packages for ‘No one left out’ all over Milan, and serve as our antennae, picking up people in need in the city and acting as trusted interlocutors.
To talk to one of our social workers on the switchboard about the service we are offering under ‘Nobody Left Behind’ in 2022, as well as the support we provide with access to local services, please call +39 02 86316890.
Support our work
We know how important it is that no one’s left behind, especially at a time of crisis. We want to do all we can to help people get through this, but to do that we need your help.