Photo: Help Centers

Last update: Sustainability Report 2021

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 centre network currently spans 18 railway stations from Northern to Southern Italy with spaces granted on free loan covering a total surface area of 4,777 m², for a commercial value of €7,165,500 (estimating an average of €1,500 per m²).

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).

From June 2020 and throughout 2021, activities to support social vulnerability have been expanded by increasing surveillance and healthcare prevention at the Roma Termini help centre and Binario95 where, thanks to a partnership with Istituto IFO San Gallicano IRCSS, over 7,000 free Covid-19 tests (blood tests and antigen and molecular swabs) have been administered to the homeless and service operators. In 2021, the co-design work for the creation of a new health centre model in Rovereto was completed. This poly-functional centre aims to set up a community hub of the city’s social resources.

The Help Center network's main services

Evidence of the immense work carried out over the years is seen in the numbers related to the past five years (2016-2020): over 107 thousand people used the centres of the network for over 2.3 million social orientation projects (including almost 2 million low threshold projects - providing basic goods, food, clothes, blankets or basic sanitary services - and over 400 thousand support and social orientation projects) thanks to the intense daily work of the thousands of operators and volunteers who helped provide the services over the years.

New users, i.e., those using the ONDS social services available at the station for the first time, account for more than half of total users between 2016 and 2020 (55%).

With regard to 2021, though information is still being gathered at some help centres at the time of preparation of the 2021 Sustainability Report, an initial analysis shows an estimated over 10% increase in the number of people who received assistance from the network compared to 2020.


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).