Photo: Help Centers

Last update: Sustainability Report 2022

Promoted and managed in collaboration with local bodies and non-profit associations, the Help Center are the FS Group’s answer to the growing phenomenon of social hardship and the considerable rise in migration to Europe and, in particular, Italy.

The Help Center model offers persons in need a concrete alternative to living in the station and the prospect of chronic social exclusion. At any time, they welcome centres, the countless experiences in the spaces made available free of charge in stations – all of these can be traced back to this new experimental approach to welfare. To create the Help Centers, the FS Group provides rooms inside or near to the station, on loan for use, to associations and authorities engaged in combating social marginalisation and exclusion.

The first two centres were set up in the stations of Roma Termini and Milano Centrale, to which those in Bologna, Chivasso, Turin, Genoa Cornigliano, Trieste, Florence Santa Maria Novella, Pescara Centrale, Napoli Centrale, Foggia, Melfi, Reggio Calabria, Messina, Bari, Catania, Brescia, Pisa and Cagliari were added.

Between June 2020 and the whole of 2021, support activities for social fragility were strengthened by reinforcing health surveillance and prevention activities at the Help Centre in Roma Termini and Binario95 where, thanks to a partnership with the IFO San Gallicano IRCSS Institute, over 7,000 Covid-19 tests (serological, antigenic and molecular swabs) were carried out free of charge on homeless people and service workers.

In 2021, the co-planning work for the creation in Rovereto of a new Help Centre model, a multi-purpose centre that aims to be a true 'community academy' of the city's social resources, was completed.

In 2022, centres in Cagliari and Grosseto joined the network. The former covers 400 square metres and is able to offer not only the standard listening and social orientation functions, but also day and night care for 50 people, with areas specifically dedicated to women and mothers with children. The Grosseto Help Centre, on the other hand, is managed by CoeSo, the Health Society of the Amiata Grossetana Social-Health Area, and plays a key role in institutional planning, supported by Regione Toscana as part of a Memorandum of Understanding with FS and that finances the promotion of a station social service system articulated in various regional railway contexts, alongside which the centres in Florence and Pisa will soon be joined by the centres soon to be opened in Livorno and Viareggio.

Help Centre activities in 2022

In 2022, the commitment of over 100 operators and 200 volunteers who worked every day at the Help Centres was significant, as was the interest of various national and local companies - from Coop in Liguria for the distribution of unsold food to the Genoa Cornigliano Help Centre and the network it coordinates, to Enel Cuore which supported the renovation of numerous Help Centres over the years, to IKEA, which has been furnishing the Help Centres and reception areas connected to them for over ten years.

Even on a health level, the Help Centre network has established a number of collaborations, some of which were initiated during the pandemic, such as the one in Rome with the IRCSS IFO Regina Elena San Gallicano for the provision of free swabs, vaccines, but also free dermatological, gynaecological and cardiac examinations to Help Centre beneficiaries, or others that have been going on for years, such as the relationship with the IncontraDonna Foundation for the care of the health of fragile women in particular through cancer prevention activities carried out nationwide by the foundation's doctors.

From the analyses conducted by the Observatory, it emerges that the main purpose of the Help Centres, which in 2022 provided 335,000 low-threshold services, is the possibility of bringing about a change in the lives of the people who turn to them.


In addition to the help centres, through major Italian non-profit associations, many shelters have been set up in railways areas, particularly in Rome and Milan:

  • the Don Luigi Di Liegro shelter in Rome,
  • the Rifugio Caritas shelter in Milan,
  • the Binario 95 day shelter in Rome,
  • the Progetto Arca shelter in Milan,
  • the Pedro Arrupe shelter in Rome for those seeking asylum and political refugees, managed by the Centro Astalli association.

A total surface area of roughly 11,016 m² has been granted on free loan for the social activities carried out in the shelters, with a total estimated value of around €16,524,000 (average value of €1,500/m²). Overall, the total surface area granted on free loan for social activities (help centres and shelters) in 2021 is approximately 15,793120 m², with an estimated value of around €23,689,500 (average value of €1,500/m²).