New ONDS Annual Report presented

The number of interventions and activities of Help Centres forming part of the ONDS network grows in 2022

Food support, accommodation, listening and guidance. After a drop in attendance in 2020 due to the pandemic, the number of interventions and activities of the Help Centres forming part of the ONDS network — counters for listening, guidance and social assistance present in Italian railway stations — increased in 2021 and 2022. An activity that, as of this year, has also seen the birth of a new project, carried out by Gruppo FS Italiane in collaboration with Ridaje and ONDS, for the reintegration into the social fabric of about 20 guests from the Roma Termini Help Centre.

The numbers of the ONDS (National Observatory of Solidarity in Italian Stations) Annual Report were presented this morning in Roma Termini at the LVenture HUB by Alessandro Radicchi, director of ONDS, in the presence, among others, of Anna Maria Morrone, Organisation & People Development Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane.

With a total of over 3 million interventions — 545,000 of which were social guidance and 2,960,000 were low-threshold interventions — more than 145,000 people turned to the current 20 Help Centres forming part of the ONDS network between 2016 and 2022: 80% men, 23.5% Italian, 63.8% non-EU. The most represented age group is between 18 and 29.

With 19,782 persons taken into care, 2022 saw an increase compared to the average of recent years of non-EU foreigners (67 %) and women, who rose from 18.5 % to 21.6 % with an increase in absolute terms of 24 % (from 3301 in 2021 to 4094 in 2022); transgender persons are stable at around 0.4 % of the total.

There are currently 20 active Help Centres, distributed throughout the country in the stations of Rome, Milan, Florence, Genoa, Naples, Catania, Foggia, Chivasso, Pescara, Bari, Turin, Messina, Bologna, Reggio Calabria, Brescia, Cagliari, Pisa, Grosseto, Viareggio and Rovereto (the last three have only been opened recently).

Concerning the nationality of the users, in 2022 the most represented countries after Italy (22.7%) were Morocco (11.5%), up from 2021 (10.4%), Nigeria (5.5%), Tunisia (5.3%), up from 2021, and Romania (5.2%), down from 2021.

The main requests submitted are those for food support (40%), housing (16.8%), general listening (13%), guidance and accompaniment to services (9%). Requests for Food (from 28% to 32%), Work Support (from 2% to 5.8%) and Primary Goods (from 2% to 4.9%) increased in 2022, while Listening, Services and Housing decreased, still remaining around 20%.

The reach of the Help Centres does not stop at the station. The Observatory in fact commissioned the Euricse Research Institute to carry out a social impact measurement analysis of the Help Centres with the aim of investigating the relationship between resources employed and results. An evolving social network that, through measurement, studies evolutions and management strengths and weaknesses in order to discuss and decide about future strategies that can improve its results and impact on marginalised people.

The project carried out by Gruppo FS Italiane in cooperation with Ridaje and ONDS, was also presented during the morning, aimed at reintegrating into the social fabric about 20 guests from the Help Centre at Roma Termini, who were trained and then employed for a year in activities to redevelop neglected public green areas. At the end of the programme, participants receive a professional certificate and at least two of them are employed by companies or cooperatives working in urban garden maintenance.

Generally speaking, after a drop in turnout in 2020 due to the pandemic, there is a growing activity in Help Centres, particularly in large metropolitan areas. Precisely on the occasion of the elaboration of the 2022 Report, the ONDS in collaboration with ISTAT defined a new indicator taking into account the number of people helped each year in relation to the number of active Help Centres; this indicator specifically showed a significant growth from 1.8 in 2020 to 2.2 in 2022.

Images created especially for ONDS by Gaze Collective's documentary photographers were also presented during the event. "After 20 years of the ONDS network activity, this report takes us a step forward in the direction of understanding the strength of the work of our centres through numbers, but also through the stories of the 20,000 people we meet every day and the incredible impact of that work on their communities," says Alessandro Radicchi, Director of ONDS.