In Italy, deserted railway buildings are patching up the social fabric and supporting migrants

Author: Sofia Cherici

This article is part of Changing the Narrative. Articles in this series are written by student or early-career journalists who took part in The Local’s training course on solutions-focused migration reporting. Find out more about the project here.

Since 2005, redecorated walls and refurbished buildings have turned it into a Help Center that supports marginalised groups in the area, with many flowing in and out to get a warm meal, basic medical assistance, or simply take a shower. Of the thousand users coming to the Help Center every year, many from the low-income foreign population are benefitting from the services.

Across Italy, more than 400 social initiatives managed by social stakeholders have sprung up in disused spaces owned by the Italian railway network (RFI).

Unlike many national social protection schemes, most of these social projects do not abide by a logic of citizenship: people may show up and receive assistance even without showing any identity document. This allows the vulnerable fraction of the population like irregular migrants – often excluded from official government assistance – to benefit from a network of social programmes.

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