FS Italiane, ONDS Annual Report

Help Centres: over 473,000 acts of assistance. With Covid-19, the demand for basic necessities is on the rise.

Rome, 1 December 2021

In 2020, over 473,000 acts of assistance for people in difficulty were carried out by the 18 Help Centres, including the outreach, orientation and social assistance points present in Italian railway stations.

The year has been conditioned by the Covid-19 emergency which – with a reduction in the total number of operations compared to 2019 owing to the temporary halting of some services and the forced limits on travelling as a result of the pandemic – saw a 2% increase in requests for basic necessities.

This is what emerges from the Report of the Osservatorio Nazionale della Solidarietà nelle Stazioni Italiane (ONDS – National Observatory of Solidarity in Italian Stations) presented today in a streamed event at the Auditorium Villa Patrizi, headquarters of the FS Italiane Group.

In attendance were Enrico Giovannini, Minister of Infrastructure and Sustainable Mobility, Enzo Bianco, President of the ANCI National Council, Francesco Parlato, Chief Institutional and Regulatory Affairs Officer for Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, along with Anna Maria Morrone, Head of Organisation and People Development for Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane.

The ONDS annual report, sponsored by ANCI and published digitally for the first time, was illustrated by Alessandro Radicchi, Director of the Observatory.

As part of the presentation, a round table was also held, attended by Luigi Corvo – Professor of Global Governance at the Tor Vergata University of Rome, Aldo Morrone – Scientific Director of the San Gallicano Institute (IRCCS) Rome, Marco Girella – Head of the Genoa Help Centre, and Massimo Ippoliti – Head of the Pescara Help Centre.

In 2020, 15,676 people contacted the Help Centres of the ONDS network (-30% compared to 2019). New users, having been aided by the in-station social services of the ONDS network, for the first time exceed 52% of total users, despite the decrease in the overall value (-37% compared to 2019).

There was a significant rise in requests from Italian citizens seeking assistance through the Help Centres, with the percentage growing from 24% in 2019 to 28% (4,089) in 2020. The largest group of people in need to have requested assistance was represented by foreigners, being 11,587 individuals in 2020. Of these, 1,405 were EU citizens (9%) and 9,255 non-EU citizens (63%). Men remain the majority, representing 12,540 (82%) of users, along with 2,758 women (18%) and 26 transgender people.

In 2020, there were approximately 49,000 social support and orientation operations and over 424,000 “low-threshold” activities (distribution of meals, blankets, clothing and basic necessities) for a total of 473,000 acts of assistance, -9% compared to 2019 due in particular to a 52% reduction in social orientation activities and a 2% increase in low-threshold activities, despite the decline in users.

Currently, the Solidarity Network includes 18 Help Centres, being outreach points located inside and/or in the surrounding areas of the railway stations that guide people in difficulty towards the social services available within the city (refuge centres, therapeutic communities, specialised associations), with the aim of developing targeted pathways of recovery and social reintegration. The premises have been loaned at no cost by FS Italiane and are managed by local associations for social purposes, in agreement with the Municipalities. The first two centres were set up in the Roma Termini and Milano Centrale stations before being joined by those in Bologna, Chivasso, Turin, Genoa Cornigliano, Firenze Santa Maria Novella, Pescara Centrale, Napoli Centrale, Foggia, Reggio Calabria, Messina, Bari, Catania, Brescia, Pisa and Cagliari. Then, just a few weeks ago, the new centre in Rovereto, “La Foresta – Community Academy", was inaugurated.