A NEW residential facility has opened in Rome this month, providing permanent accommodation for up to 14 refugees who had previously lived in The Salvation Army’s social services centre in the Italian capital. The programme is a community-based partnership led by The Salvation Army and financed by the government and municipal authorities – the first such collaboration in Italy, in an ongoing scheme that will see buildings requisitioned by the government and repurposed for initiatives of social benefit.
The director of the initiative, Captain Monica Seiler, explains that the newly-renovated apartments will enable independent living but also continue to provide wrap-around case management services to residents. ‘The accommodation is beautiful,’ she says, ‘and the building is not being run as a “shelter” – it’s a new way of providing a sustainable housing solution, with clients moving on from an emergency/crisis situation to a context which offers long-term security.’
The individual units at Centro Virgilio Paglieri provide each occupant with their own personal space, kitchen and private bathroom, with shared laundry facilities and communal spaces.
The first seven residents have migrated from countries such as Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, The Gambia and Niger. While this is a first step towards independent living, The Salvation Army will provide ongoing support and help connect residents with partner agencies, social services and health professionals as required. Each resident will have a dedicated Salvation Army social worker as they work to achieve their personal goals.
Many of the residents are already working, and have completed language studies and developed vocational skills, particularly in the service industry. Adam, a man from The Gambia, is now working with Glovo, a local food delivery company. On moving into his new apartment he said: ‘I never thought I would see the day where I would have a beautiful apartment to live in. Being in Italy has made my life better and I now know I have a family with The Salvation Army. I look forward to the future.’
Captain Seiler is delighted to have joined many of the new residents on their moving-in day. ‘This is what it’s all about – empowerment. We are so grateful to the authorities, and are happy that this new accommodation is already being put to good use. I have had the privilege of following some of the residents’ stories over the last few years, and it is a blessing to have secured a place these individuals can call home for the next phase of their lives.’
Report by IHQ Communications