Cagliari: a new help centre at the station for people in a fragile state

The help centre, which was established in cooperation between Ferrovie dello Stato and the Cagliari municipality, is managed by the Associazione Donne al Traguardo. Inaugurated in the presence of representatives of the FS Group and local institutions, it is part of the Observatory of Solidarity in Railway Stations (ONDS), the social network that manages and coordinates the activities of the 18 Help Centres present within the main Italian stations.

With the aim of welcoming and supporting the homeless and people in difficulty who gravitate around the railway station, a new Help Centre – the first in the Region of Sardinia – has sprung up in Cagliari, on Viale La Plaia.

Born out of the collaboration between Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane and the Municipality of Cagliari, the station’s Help Centre forms part of the network coordinated by the National Observatory of Solidarity in Railway Stations (ONDS), an FS Italiane and ANCI project that today counts 18 Help Centres in as many railway terminals, integrated with municipal proximity services (Mobile Support Service, Street Units and the Invisible Cities project).

The Help Desk offers a listening, orientation and observation service for adults in a state of serious social marginalisation, homelessness and with economic, health or relational difficulties.

The centre in Cagliari operates within an extensive space, integrating daytime activities, workshops and clothing distribution through to the night-time hospitality in the various apartments on the upper floors of the building. It is run by the Associazione Donne al Traguardo, founded in 2001 by a group of women for women to open up spaces in the cultural, social, political and economic fields. It is a representation of excellence in the Cagliari area in terms of the variety of initiatives and the ability to aggregate energies and resources around common objectives.

The service operating in Cagliari offers some 40 low-threshold beds to accommodate men, women and mothers in conditions of severe social marginalisation at night.

In the same building and in the adjacent open spaces, the Association Donne al Traguardo has set up a centre for social gatherings along with a collection and distribution service for food, clothing and furnishings.

The Help Centres, housed in premises loaned free of charge by the FS Group, are “low-threshold” listening desks, meaning there are no entry requirements. They aim to intercept and take charge of those most in need and to set them off on a path to recovery, working with social services and local institutions. There are 18 such sites throughout Italy. In 2022, they carried out 400,000 interventions, 50,000 acts of support and guidance along with taking care of more than 15,000 people with individual intervention programmes.

To date, Help Centres have also been set up in the stations of Bari Centrale, Bologna Centrale, Brescia, Catania Centrale, Chivasso, Firenze Santa Maria Novella, Foggia, Genova Cornigliano, Grosseto, Messina Centrale, Milano Centrale, Napoli Centrale, Pescara Centrale, Pisa San Rossore, Reggio Calabria Centrale, Roma Termini and Torino Porta Nuova.

The inauguration ceremony of the newest social reality was kicked off with greetings from Mayor Paolo Truzzu, who emphasised the importance of the solidarity circuit set up in the Sardinian capital, in a network of action that also involves Caritas and Ozanam, in addition to FS and ONDS.

Next to speak was Anna Maria Morrone, Head of Organisation & People Development for the FS Group, who expressed praise for the initiative and her desire to strengthen the solidarity actions promoted by the company. “Being a socially responsible company means first and foremost taking concrete action to support the needs of the community in which we operate and this eighteenth Help Centre that we have inaugurated today is proof of that,” she said. “The FS Group has in its mission the creation of connections, networks that link people and goods with each other every day. The Help Centres are part of this project – to create yet again support networks, active and enabling, and connections with the community for people who are in a state of fragility. We are happy to stand alongside the Association Donne al Traguardo in this initiative, for which we wish all the best.”

The inauguration of the structure was attended by Viviana Lantini – Councillor for Social, Welfare and Family Policies of the Municipality of Cagliari, Silvana Migoni – President of the Association Donne al Traguardo, and Alessandro Radicchi – ONDS Director. Also present was the artist Manu Invisible, who created a large mural within the building housing the Help Centre.