Visit to Milano

Tue 24th – Thu 26th February 2015, Italy


The Italian partners – Caritas Ambrosiana hosted the visit in Milano. Here is short description of all the visited projects and organizations.:


Scarp de’ Tenis

Scarp de’ Tenis is a monthly street magazine born to support the social and employment needs of severely emarginated people. The magazine is sold on the streets by contract sellers who present serious social disadvantages, mainly homeless people.

It is managed and edited by the no profit cooperative “Oltre” (beyond), promoted by Caritas Ambrosiana in 2006.

[NOTE: see the best practices booklet for more information]


La fabbrica di Olinda – Olinda’sfactory

Olinda is a collective project born in 1994 with the aim of requalifying the area of the former psychiatric hospital Paolo Pini.

It is a type B social cooperative with Onlus status. Since 1999 it has developed different projects in order to promote the work insertion of disadvantaged persons, in particular people with mental health issues:

-       The restaurant and coffee shop “Jodok”

-       The Catering service “OlindaCatering”

-       The hostel and residence “OstellOlinda”

-       The restaurant and coffee shop “BistrotOlinda”, located downtown at the Theatre Elfo Puccini

-       The theatre activities TeatroLaCucina

The numerous initiatives implemented in the last 20 years – summer center for children, theatre workshops for young people, events, neighbourhood parties, football competitions and more- represent a mix of social enterprise, culture and local welfare, where one activity fuels the others.

The project is based on the principle that taking care of the people means also taking care of the places and spaces of the city.


Il Giardino degli Aromi – The Seasoning Garden

Il Giardino degli Aromiis a non-profit association with Onlus status born in 2003 in the framework of Olinda’s experience thanks to the initiatives of a group of women keen about growing herbs and spices. It is based in the park of the former psychiatric hospital and promotes organic agriculture, training, environmental education and free gardens.


Aromi a tutto campo – seasoning across-the-board

It is a type B social cooperative promoted by “Il Giardino degli Aromi” in 2011. It involves people with mental health issues in a vegetarian catering activity, which ranges from vegetables growing to cooking.



The association Asnada Onlus promotes educational and training activities and Italian courses addressed to immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers since 2010.


VestiSolidale social cooperative – Wear Solidarity

Established in 1998, VestiSolidaleis a type B social cooperative promoted by Caritas Ambrosiana aimed at the work insertion of disadvantaged people.

In 2012 it had a turnover of over 4.4 million euro and almost 338 thousands euro of income, part of which is devolved to solidarity projects.

At the end of 2012 VestiSolidale had 52 cooperative members (41 workers and 11 volunteers). As a whole, it employs 99 people, of which 36% are disadvantaged persons as defined by the Italian law (people with physical or mental disabilities, detainees and former detainees, people suffering from alcohol and drug addiction). Moreover it employs people belonging to other categories of disadvantages (as defined by EU law: homeless, women victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation, unemployed person over 45, refugees, Roma people) and people severely affected by the economic crisis. Disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged people work together every day and there are no salary differences.

The cooperative implements different activities in the environmental sector, especially concerning the collection, re-use and recycle of second-hand clothes and technological waste:

-       Ri.Ca.Ri.Ca. (Recharge): project aimed at the collection and recycling of exhausted cartridges for laser and ink-jet printers.

-       Cambia Stagione (Change of season): project aimed at the collection of second hand clothes, shoes and bags thanks to 685 recycle bins placed in public places and near Parishes. Between 1998 and 2012 the cooperative recovered about 37,000 tons of goods.

-       Retech: project aimed at the recycling of dangerous and non-dangerous electronic material. In 2012, it achieved the disposal of  190 tons of electronic waste

-       CittàExtrapulite (extra clean cities): project offering to public administrations a cleaning service for roads, squares and green areas.

-       Donaphone (donate phone): project aimed at the collection and recycling of old mobile phones (about 8,300 in 2012).


M’ama food

Started in 2010 by the social cooperative Farsi Prossimo as a kitchen laboratory to promote the integration of refugees women, M’ama Food became a regular social catering business in 2012. Today the initiative, born with an initial group of six persons, involves up to 35/40 people. There is a stable group of cooks, caterers and hostesses and different people participating on a temporary basis, gaining professional experience and an opportunity to start a new career.

It aims at supporting the integration of female refugees and asylum seekers and at promoting training and work insertion opportunities for them. Also, it encourages intercultural dialogue through different food traditions and recipes.

M’ama food is a wordplay which sounds both as “m’ama” (he/she/it loves me) and “mama” (mum).

[NOTE: see the best practices booklet for more information]


Il Rifugio – The Shelter

Il Rifugio is a night shelter of Caritas Ambrosiana, managed by the social cooperative Farsi Prossimo. It provides Italian and foreigners (both legal and illegal immigrants) men in difficulty, often homeless, with a place to spend the night.

Breakfast if offered in the morning for free. Clients are sent here from the Caritas’ counseling centres SAI and SAM (for foreign people and for severely marginalized people respectively) with a personal reintegration project and can stay from 15 days to maximum 3 months.



The cooperative VestiSolidale launched an innovative spin-off project: in March 2014 it inaugurated the first solidarity second-hand shop of Milano, selling high quality second-hand clothes and accessories. This allows maximizing the value of certain selected items among the collected materials: the prime, top-quality goods are in fact sold directly to the final user with a higher margin of profit. The shop revenues are allocated to social and charity initiatives.


Il laboratorio del caffè – The coffee laboratory

The shop sells innovative, recyclable and fair trade coffee pods. It is managed by the consortium of the same name founded by the social cooperatives Chico Mendes (active in the fair trade field), VestiSolidale and Bee4 (working with former detainees).



The building in via Padova 36 hosts, together with the two shops presented above, a project of social housing.

ViaPadova36 offers houses with controlled rent with the aim of:

-       Offering housing opportunities to those who can’t afford market rents, in particular socially and economically vulnerable families;

-       Answering the need for low cost temporary housing for students or parents of hospital impatiens coming from faraway;

-       Offering accompaniment paths to housing autonomy for singles and families;

-       Providing those who live in the building for a long time and represent the historical memory of the area with better houses.

The building is located in one of the most multiethnic areas of Milano.


Casa dell’Accoglienza – Shelter house

It is a night shelter and a day centre managed by the Municipality of Milano, offering temporary refuge to adult persons in need, without any kind of accommodation and without the economic means to obtain it. It is addressed to men and women, Italians, foreigners (legal migrants only) and stateless people. To access its services, a person must be aged 18 to 65, be psychophysically self-sufficient and have an income lower than the minimum pension for former employees (equal to 501.38 euro in 2014 – note: in Italy there is no minimum income).

Beside the night shelter, the structure offers various services during the day: hot meals in the evening, showers, library, living room with TV, lockers, wardrobes, laundry service, medical and nursing assistance, educational service and different social activities. Clients have to pay a contribution of 1.50 euro per night and 1.50 euro per meal.


La schiscetta – il sapore non si arresta

This social catering, whose name can be translated with “Lunch box – flavour can’t be arrested” is managed by the no profit association Kayros Onlus, established in 2000 with the aim of supporting young people in difficulty indicated by the social services, the juvenile court and the law enforcement agencies. It promotes the social, school and work (re)inclusion of minors, managing residential rehabilitation youth centres and promoting volunteering, educational and professional orientation services, cultural activities, school support, the culture of legality and training addressed to families and teachers.