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

Timeline: June 2012 - December 2012
DarVoce started in 2001 a project called "After Us", which aimed to support disadvantaged people, such as elderly or people with disabilities. The main goal of the project was to identify the juridical instruments that could best protect and support those disabled people who have no family to assist them.
In 2004 a new law establishing the "Tutor who takes care of the affairs of incapable persons" was the right occasion for Dar Voce to promote an important instrument that gave to people with disabilities and their families the opportunity to protect disabled and fragile people, instead of interdicting them.
Dar Voce together with other voluntary organizations (constituted mainly by families of disabled people) worked on an innovative project meant to offer directly to citizens the opportunity to become "tutors", through a highly specialized training course, necessary to acquire the useful competences. This meant an important financial saving for families that in the past were obliged to entrust a lawyer. The tutor who takes care of the affairs of incapable persons, on a voluntary basis, (for free) would have a completely different style, not merely professional, but more careful and respectful of the individual needs of the entrusted person.
From August to December 2012 the effort of Dar Voce has been focused on the following activities:
Action A1: Project Management
Coordinating partnerships, financial management, public relations with local authorities involved in the project, in order to promote the initiative in the whole province and to support the organization of the training sessions. The partnership has been considerably widened during the first months as Municipalities Union of Tresinaro Secchia, Municipalities Union of Bassa Reggiana; Municipalities Union of Pianura Reggiana; Municipalities Union of Val d'Enza; Social Services of Castelnovo Monti, have been added to the first partners of this initiative: Sostegno e Zucchero; Fa.Ce.; ABC e ANFFAS Correggio (associations of families of people with disabilities), the Municipality of Reggio Emilia, The Province of Reggio Emilia, Reggio Emilia Local Health Service, and the Court of Reggio Emilia.
Action B2: Organisation and starting up of the Help Desk
The participation of the Court of Reggio Emilia was fundamental for reaching the main goal of the project: the opening of a Help Desk, in the premises of the Court, directly managed by volunteers, which aim is to support citizens in applying for the service.
Before the opening of this Help Desk this practice could only be done by professional lawyers, therefore under the payment of a fee, or by citizens themselves, with the risk to make mistakes given the complexity of the issue. DarVoce coordinated and supported the activation of the Help Desk, entirely managed by trained volunteers, who are facilitating and accelerating the procedures and relieving the workload of the local Court. These achievements are very positively perceived by the citizens, the administrative staff and the judges of the Court. Between November 2012 and March 2013 there have been about 300 accesses to the Help Desk, concerning enquiries, appeals and petitions, support for the account reporting.
Between November 2012 and April 2013 the volunteers of the Help Desk were committed for 1.638 hours of voluntary work. With the direct engagement of volunteers, the community and citizens have saved about 260.000 euro, considering the average cost of lawyers that would have been hired for this task.
Action C3: Promotion of the project for the recruitment of volunteers
The promotion of the project has been targeting citizens and relatives of vulnerable and incapable persons, with the aim to recruit new volunteers and inform about the opportunities offered by the Tutor.
The communication plan has foreseen the design and development of several tools:
- A TV commercial, of about 30 seconds, broadcasted in the main local television channel.
- Posters and leaflets with general information on the tutoring service, the training pathways and the seminars organized in the province of Reggio Emilia.
- A press conference for the start-up of the initiative, organized by the Court of Reggio Emilia, which had a wide and significant attention from all local media.
Action D5: Updates of the List of persons acting as tutors of incapable persons in the territory of Reggio Emilia
The presence of the Provincial authority of Reggio Emilia in the partnership has favored the establishment of the Register of the volunteer Tutors. In the Register will be included all citizens who, after completion of the training courses, are available to take service as Tutors of vulnerable and incapable persons. Judges of the local Tribunal can choose the persons to be appointed for this role. Volunteers will be enrolled in this Register after the training course and an individual interview, which is aimed at understanding the attitudes and competencies of the candidates, as well as the preferences for the kind of beneficiary they intend to assist. The requirements needed for being a tutor have been defined by the legal consultant of DarVoce, according to a specific profile for performing the tutoring and the help desk activities.

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