Supporting a Project for the Empowerment of the Role of the Tutor of Lonely and Incapable Persons in Reggio Emilia, Italy

Project location: ITALY, Reggio Emilia
Project start date: June 2012 - Project end date: May 2013
Project number: 2012-030
Beneficiary: Associazione Darvoce

The "Tutor of lonely and incapable persons" is an institution provided by the Italian law (Amministratore di Sostegno). He/she is someone entrusted by the Court with the care of the person or property, or both, of another, as a minor or someone legally incapable of managing his or her own affairs. Normally this role is covered by lawyers who are paid by the beneficiaries for their commitment and are acting as simple "managers" of administrative, legal and financial matters, without the necessary relational and human factor.
The present project, which received a grant from the Nando Peretti Foundation, is aimed at promoting, increasing and empowering the figure of the "Tutor of lonely and incapable persons" in order to provide a concrete, free help to the most disadvantaged people of our society, those who are simultaneously affected by extreme economic and social hardship, solitude and lack of family, private or public support.
The target groups are therefore many and heterogeneous: elderly people, youngsters and children, person with physical and psychical disabilities or abuse problems, ex offenders, etc...
Overall the project is expected to:
- involve about 150 citizens for becoming tutors and 30 volunteering associations for supporting the operations;
- provide direct support to some thousands disadvantaged citizens;
- stimulate active citizenship and raise the awareness of the issue in institutions and civil society at local, regional and national level.

The innovations the organization intends to pursue, which is unique in Italy (except for a piloting experience in the Province of Pordenone) is to recruit a significant number of motivated volunteers among "ordinary citizens" who can become tutors (when properly and professionally trained), and manage with high professional standard the whole service for free, in collaboration with local associations and institutions. This approach will bring several added values such as a closed relation with the beneficiaries and an adequate level of care, humanity and understanding.
In the current troubled scenario, characterised by the economic crisis, the cuts to welfare services and the increasing of poverty and marginalisation of disadvantaged groups, it is important to empower the role for the "Tutor of lonely and incapable persons" for concretely responding to the growing needs of today's society.
The 2010 Annual Report of ISTAT, the Italian Statistics Office, highlights that in the last decades the number of people incapable to take care of themselves and who live in solitude or with a weak familiar, private and public support has grown tremendously: among them there are elderly people, about 651.000 individuals who live alone and that don't receive any kind of private or public support; lonely adults with serious physical or psychical impairments (332.000); but also youngsters and children. The social and territorial situation of the province of Reggio Emilia is characterised by the above challenging and growing demands: the elderly population is increasing, as it is the number of people with disabilities or affected by addiction and abuse problems (drugs, alcohol, medicine). 2010 sources of the ASL, the Local Health Centre, demonstrates that "disadvantaged persons" in the province of Reggio Emilia represent almost 1/3 of the total population (for instance with an increase of the 7% of the elderly people who live alone). Also, the local Court, in charge of the appointment of the tutors, foresees that the need for these operators will double in the next two years, according to the strong increase of disadvantaged and incapable persons, also due to the current economic crisis and cuts to the welfare expenditures.

Associazione DarVoce proposes an innovative, integrated approach based on 3 key points:

1) Raising awareness towards civil society and institutions;

2) Empowerment of competencies of volunteers/tutors;

3) Networking dimension.

Though the present proposal is developed in 2 years, the project is to be considered as an on going cycle: the activities will continue every year in order to ensure the continuity and the stability of the tutoring service.

1) Overall project management.
Coordination of partners and working groups (Local authorities - Provincial institutions and municipalities -, Local Health Service, Court and civil society organisations); relations with other stakeholders (Regional and national authorities, associations); management of administrative and financial issues; monitoring and evaluation of the operations.

2) Organisation and starting up of the Help Desk.
It is managed by volunteers and associations, open to disadvantaged persons, families, people interested in becoming tutors and citizens in general.
The Help Desk is located in the premises of the Court, will be open 30 hours a week (5 mornings and 2 afternoons) and it will provide face-to-face, online and telephone services for free.
The Help Desk will be coordinated by 1 volunteer, who will receive ad hoc training and manage the relations between DarVoce, the institutions involved and the volunteers.

3) Promotion of the project for the recruitment of volunteers for the Help Desk.
4) Promotion of the project for the recruitment of volunteers to act as Tutors of disadvantaged citizens.
These actions are addressed to all citizens of the province and aimed at: recruiting volunteers either for the Help Desk or the Tutoring Service (about 150 persons); promoting the service and raising the awareness of the problems and the need of the service in the communities concerned.

5) Definition of the formal requirements of the Tutor and updates of the List of persons acting as tutors of incapable persons in the territory of Reggio Emilia.
The requirements and the list will be jointly developed and managed by DarVoce, the Provincial authority and the Court.

6) Training of volunteers for the Help Desk.
7) Training of volunteers for becoming Tutors.
Overall the training activities are expected to involve about 150 people: each course will last 14 hours, for a total of 7 lessons (about 2.000 hours of training delivered to individuals). The subjects of the course will include legislative, social and technical topics (e.g. knowledge of the socio-economic situation of the territory, how to provide tutoring services, rights and duties of the tutor) in order to empower competencies of citizens who want to become either Tutors or working in the Help Desk.
8) Continuous training of volunteers for updating their competencies and empowering their motivation.
There will be 1 training session of 2 hours every month for the volunteers engaged both as tutors and in the Help Desk.
9) Publication of the Guidelines of the "Tutor of lonely and incapable persons".
The Guide represents a useful handbook for volunteers and a promotional material for the whole citizenship that will be available for free by public institutions, local health services, civil society organisations dealing with disadvantaged groups and potential beneficiaries (about 300 copies are foreseen in addition to the electronic version, which is freely available).

As previously mentioned, the project approach is based upon 3 main guidelines that are inspiring the whole project cycle:
1) Awareness raising: the initiative is open to the community for recruiting the volunteers of the Help Desk and for the Tutoring Service; for informing disadvantaged people, their relatives and associations of the existence of the service, but also for sensitising citizens to the importance of the project.
2) Empowerment of competencies of volunteers: the project is based on the voluntary work of citizens, therefore good will and solidarity are essential factors. Nevertheless, the initiative intends to combine those factors with a strong professional value in order to ensure the high quality, efficiency and effectiveness of the services to be provided to the beneficiaries and the community as a whole.
3) Networking dimension: it is necessary for ensuring a valuable and effective impact of the operations for the well being of all citizens. During the project cycle there will be a strong multi-stakeholder dimension, which foresees the closed cooperation between DarVoce and all key actors involved in the project, such as local authorities (Provincial authority and municipalities), other institutions (Court, Local Health Service) and civil society organisations.
The methodology is based on a simple but efficient and effective "Plan-Do-Check-Act" process consisting of analysis-development-testing-revision, in the spirit of quality management. Activities are designed upon real needs of the beneficiaries and tested by the project actors themselves (volunteers and public officers), in order to guarantee usability and impact.
Also a monitoring and evaluation process is foreseen consisting, among the others, of: on-going monitoring and intermediate/final yearly evaluation managed by DarVoce, which includes qualitative and quantitative indicators related to the different project dimensions (e.g. promotion, recruitment, training, help desk, tutoring); regular meetings and focus groups with partner institutions and associations and volunteers; satisfaction questionnaires regarding the training carried out.

NO MORE ALONE aims at producing the following concrete and sustainable impact on communities and "disadvantaged" citizens:
1) Recruitment and training of volunteers
- About 150 citizens recruited for the Help Desk and the Tutoring Service.
- 1 Volunteer Coordinator, duly trained and supported, responsible for the management of the team of volunteers.
- 2 Training courses for volunteers: 7 lessons, 14 hours each for a total of about 2.000 hours of training per year.
- Continuous training for updating competencies and empowering motivation of volunteers: 1 session of 2 hours every month for a total of 11 sessions per year.

2) Starting-up of the Help Desk and Tutoring Service
- Help Desk managed by about 20 volunteers, open 30 hours a week (5 mornings and 2 afternoons), providing face-to-face, online and telephone information and consultancy for free.
- List of the Volunteer Tutors officially appointed by the Court and the Province of Reggio Emilia.
- About 150 Tutors assisting some thousands beneficiaries (elderly people, disabled persons, youngsters and children, ex offenders, people with substance dependence, etc.) for free on the territory.
- About 30 volunteering associations supporting the services.
- Diffusion of the Guidelines of the "Tutor of lonely and incapable persons": 300 hard copies and free availability of electronic version.

3) Strengthening of networking and multi-stakeholder dimension
- Improvement of the cooperation between organisations of the civil society (DarVoce, 30 volunteering associations), local authorities (Province of Reggio Emilia, Municipalities of the territory) and other institutions (Court, Local Health Service).

The multiplier effects expected are:

4) Awareness raising and promotion of active citizenship
Both during the recruiting phase and along the project cycle the problems related to lonely and incapable persons and the Help Desk/Tutoring Service will be widely disseminated to citizenship and institutions through events, traditional and social media, promotional materials (leaflets, guidelines, etc.). This will increase the awareness of the problem and sensitise individuals to the importance of voluntary work and active involvement of citizens in the community.
5) Mainstreaming and transfer of the model at regional and national level
The model proposed is unique in Italy. During the process that have brought to the designing of the project we have built up several relations and collaborations with the Emilia-Romagna Regional Authority, other local institutions and with the regional and national networks of the Service Centers for the voluntary organizations. They have demonstrated a great interest in this pilot experience and the aim is to exploit project results through specific agreements for improving the legislation and the operational capacity, efficiency and effectiveness of the Tutoring Service.

think global, act local
you are here: Home  > Projects:  Charity or Europe  (or Both)  > 2012-030  > Project Description