Photo: Help Centers

Last update: Sustainability Report 2019

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 are meant to welcome and shelter those who are most in need and help begin their rehabilitation with the city’s social services and institutions. The Group plays a key role in this project, providing space inside or near to the station on free loan to associations and authorities engaged in combating social marginalisation and covering urgent needs so they can create the appropriate structures.

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 Help Center network currently extends to 18 railway stations from Northern to Southern Italy. The total surface area granted is 4,200 m² for a commercial value of €6,300,000 (estimated at an average of €1,500 per m²).

Since October 2020, activities to support social vulnerability have been expanded by increasing surveillance and healthcare prevention at the Roma Termini help centre and Binario 95 where, from June to December 2020, thanks to a partnership with istituo San Gallicano, over 1,700 free Covid-19 tests have been administered to the homeless and service operators. 

The Help Center network's main services

In 2020, the Help Center network assisted more than 15,500 people, showing a significant decrease in the number of users compared to the previous year (30%), mainly due to the temporary closure of some services and restrictions on beneficiaries' movements in cities due to the pandemic.

Main Help Center indicators 

  2020 2019 2018
Total days open
4,137 7,016 4,927
Total hours open 28,159 43,791 27,546
VISITORS 140,680 301,722 142,831
Social orientations projects
48,869 98,191 95,181
Low threshold projects
424,493 408,018 347,348
TOTAL PROJECTS
473,362 506,209 441,122
TOTAL USERS 15,676 21,716 20,919
New users 8,195 13,325 13,834

Shelters

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 11,000 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. Overall, the total surface area granted on free loan for social activities (Help Centre and Reception Centres) corresponds to 15,216 m², for an estimated total value of €22,824,000 (average value of €1,500 per m²)