The COVID-19 pandemic in Italy broke out in early 2020; North Italy has been one of the first region affected in the world. The outbreak, not only has caused a serious healthcare emergency, but it also led to a major financial and social crisis.
At this early stage of what will surely be a long-term challenge, thanks to the support of the Swiss foundation Fondation d’Harcourt, AVSI has launched the project “CURE – CUltivate RElationships at distance” to support a network of aid already rooted in the Italian territory that now needs further help to guarantee the health and development of the most vulnerable children and their families.
The project integrates with other AVSI initiatives in Italy for the restart after the COVID-19 emergency. The 8-months intervention supported by Fondation d'Harcourt focuses on 186 vulnerable families in the South of Milan.
“In addition to financial aid - explains the Project Manager Annalisa Costanzo - the relationship with experts and educators represents one of the most urgent needs. For instance, teenagers belonging to disadvantaged families have been the most exposed to effort and loneliness even in accessing distance learning as it requires resources and equipment which are often not available at home. Now schools are closed, but we can help them make up the missed classes and help them to tackle the new situation and deal with the anxiety, the fear and the social isolation they have experienced”.
We work with the “Istituto delle Suore di Carità dell’Assunzione” which takes care of the continuous relationship with the families and with the “Cooperativa Martinengo” which provides the team of educators. These realities already know the families experiencing hardship, especially in Corvetto, one of the toughest neighborhood of Milan. The Resilience Onlus Association trains and supervises the educators thanks to its multi-professional staff composed by psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, psychopedagogists, social workers and sociologists. AVSI has been working with Resilience for several years in different countries around the world, in particular for the training of local staff engaged in socio-educational projects.
What we do
- The Resilience Onlus Association trains educators to guide children and families in this post-emergency situation. Resilience Onlus experts will follow the educators for six months.
- We increase the educators working hours to carry out home visits and keep regular remote contacts with the most needy families.
- We will provide tablets and laptops to access psychological support and remote educational activities
- We will provide educational materials, personal protective equipment and essential medicines to the families and operators
- We will provide direct economic aid
Resilience & Relationships: the strategy
The project partners share the same working methodology based on the promotion of resilience.
Support passes through a relationship that strengthens individual resources (personal resilience) and promotes knowledge and activation of the social support network for the family (community resilience).
The selection of families, in addition to respecting the internationally recognized criteria of vulnerability (poverty, hardship and social exclusion, family conflicts, disability, mental illness, already flagged psychiatric cases), includes that the need is expressed by the beneficiaries and that there is an active participation of them. Once the request has been taken care of, the work of "reconstruction" with the family starts and allows a change in family dynamics and therefore the possibility of resolving vulnerability.
The promotion of the network is fundamental because it allows a better response to the multiple needs of families. In particular, the relationship with the school, general practitioners, social and health services, as well as the promotion of a network of families in the neighborhood can allow the cohesion and social re-integration of the weakest categories.