EUROPA - Youth - European Voluntary Service - Accredited organisations

European Commission


SAMARCANDA società cooperativa sociale onlus

Accreditation   Host organisation, Co-ordinating organisation
Approval Date  24/09/2012
Validity Date  24/09/2015
Location  Schio (Italy)
Theme 1  Anti-discrimination
Theme 2  Art and culture
Inclusion   Economic difficulties, Geographical difficulties

Project environment

Geographical environment
Schio is a town located in north-eastern Italy, in the Veneto region. It is situated in the center of an attractive landscape: the city is enclosed by mountains (Small Dolomites) and surrounded by hills. In the city there are youth centers, public parks, skate park, public library, lot of bars, restaurants and pizzerias, and ample opportunities for recreation, leisure and sport. Schio is a town in the province of Vicenza: World Heritage city Unesco and reachable by train in just half an hour. The train and bus stations are in the city center. You can reach easily also Verona, Padua and Venice, with the train as autobus.
Schio has a population of 38,600 inhabitants. The altitude is 211 meters above sea level but the entire municipality fluctuates between 144 and 1691 m.
Economical environment
Schio was one of the major manufacturing centers of the wool in Europe in the second half of the nineteenth century. It was known for the "Red Mill", a wool mill founded in 1817 by Francesco Rossi and developed by his son Alessandro between 1845 and 1898. The mill grew to 5,000 employees and became the biggest company in the country. Until 1995 Schio was now one of the most industrialized city in the north-east Italy. In this area there is a significant number of companies that are dedicated to the engineering sector and industry with precision, to textiles and clothing, as well as many goldsmiths, carpenters, carpenters, tanners, and alimentary enterprises, agricultural, ceramics and manyothers.
Social environment
The mentor and tutor will support the voluntary integration with the local community, through group meetings organized to introduce into the environment where it will live and will do volunteer work. It will also be encouraged to participate in local initiatives and events. In addition, the animation service will help volunteers to meet new people their own age and develop new friendship.
Volunteer will be welcomed in a flat in the center of the city, with a single room, bathroom, living room and kitchen are shared with 1 or two people already living in the apartment. The apartment has television, freezer, refrigerator and washing machine. In Casa Bakhita, where the volunteer will consume some meals, all drugs, including alcohol are prohibited. Also smoking is forbidden inside the house.

Volunteers will be involved, in accordance with their abilities and interest in these services:
- Bakhita house;
- Youth participation activities.
These services are addressed to different target: homeless, people aged 18 to about 70 years or so, of different nationalities, men and women and young people of the territory, from different backgrounds and ages (13 - 30 years or so). Samarcanda believes that working with dfferent kind of beneficiaries is a great opportunity for volunteers to enrich their knowledge and provide an intercultural experience deeper. So, in accordance with the interests and skills of volunteers, the proposed work program could be constructed differently (for example by carrying out a number of hours of service in a context rather than in another).
Volunteers will develop a knowledge of social work in Italy with particular reference to a people at serious risk of exclusion sociale. Specifically the volunteer will develop:
- basic skills in the educational work with disadvantaged youth and within the youth policies for encourage active participation;
- - how to be an active member of the local community
- a deep knowledge and understanding of the needs of the homeless and the correct way to enter into a relationship
- how to support vulnerable people and develop their confidence and empowerment;
- how to interact and integrate into a new culture - how to develop communication skills and listening skills in Italian, the volunteer will also grow the 8 key competences described in the youth pass, and be accompanied by a tutor in the awareness of its learning results.
The role of EVS volunteer is to develop positive relationships with guests of Bakhita house. Establish relationships based on trust allows guests to recover trust in themselves and to embark on a path toward autonomy. In addition, the volunteer will support educators in planning of the activities and may be in, if they wish, propose original and personal initiatives. Previous evs volunteers have organized cooking classes and theatre session. Furthermore volunteer support educators in the daily activities of the house, such as cooking and service during meals.
EVS volunteer will be integrated in the team of educators and will be invite to give personal contributions.
Within the activities addressed to young people evs support youth workers in youth-oriented projects to encourage active participation. They will do the service in youth centre Informagiovani, in the social bar and other social projects in order to understand which services and more rewarding for them and most relevant to their interests and resources.
Volunteers will be invited to all events of the cooperative, even trainings.
The service will be 31 hours per week. in a first period of integration, the volunteer will experience the different services described to define, later, the best weekly timetible for them. Educators and youth workers encourage the volunteer to identify and realize their personal project.
Finally the volunteer, coordinated with other volunteers by Progetto zattera Blu, participate in information sessions aimed at young people and students of the Province of Vicenza, where they can submit (with original and creative ways) their personal evs experience.
Following a proposal weekly schedule.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
10.30 - 11.30 Casa Bakhita Equipe YOUTH ACTIVITIES Casa Bakhita YOUTH ACTIVITIES
11.30 - 12.30 Casa Bakhita Equipe YOUTH ACTIVITIES Casa Bakhita YOUTH ACTIVITIES
12.30 - 13.30 Lunch/casa Bakhita Lunch/casa Bakhita Lunch/casa Bakhita Lunch/casa Bakhita Lunch/casa Bakhita
13.30 - 14.30 Free Free
14.30 - 15.30 Casa Bakhita Casa Bakhita Casa Bakhita Casa Bakhita Casa Bakhita
15.30 - 16.30 Casa Bakhita Casa Bakhita Casa Bakhita Casa Bakhita Casa Bakhita
16.30 - 17.30 YOUTH ACTIVITIES Casa Bakhita Casa Bakhita Casa Bakhita Casa Bakhita
17.30 - 18.30 YOUTH ACTIVITIES Casa Bakhita
18.30 - 19.00 YOUTH ACTIVITIES Meeting with the tutor
Hours per day 6,5 7 6 5,5 6 31


We provide some examples of proposed activities for the volunteer.
Bakhita House: Ciclofficina in support of reuse, also offering original works inspired by his native culture, organization of exhibitions, events in which to expose the work done; participation in recreational trips with guests and trips to the mountains for the recovery relationship with nature, in support of ortoterapia activities, cooking classes with dishes of their country, play time and dance, media arts lab, proposed arts activities and theater workshop in specific languages ..... Bakhita House is open to new ideas that will be stimulated in the volunteer.

Youth participation activities: support to youth centre Informagiovani; creation of workshops on youth mobility, support activities for the activation of informal groups, creating initiatives with young people following them in the preparation, implementation and evaluation of youth activities, support to the social bar Sambar in the design of initiatives with socio – cultural issues. The volunteers will participate in team meetings. At first this will be very useful to have an overview of the many activities feasible and then to present their original ideas for which they will receive the support required.
The volunteers will have 2 consecutive days off per week (basically the Saturday and Sunday) and 2 days off per month for vacation.
Each week the tutor will meet for a formative assessment for 30 minutes, this time will also be used for activities related to preparing the youth pass, the volunteer can always count on the mentor (external to the organisation).
For 8 hours per month (not counted weekly timetable), the volunteer will meet other volunteers in organizations coordinated by the mentor to design and implement a common project which has as its overall aim the promotion and visibility of the evs at local level.
Within this project the volunteer will meet with the evs volunteers of the province of Vicenza to organize intercultural events (theme evenings to present the culture of their country with food, dancing, music, video ...).
After these three years of evs projects Samarcanda and the other cooperatives members of Progetto Zattera Blu has defined a shared volunteer profile and recruitment process according with their shared values.

Below we indicate the characteristics of the volunteers who want to receive:
- Motivation to conduct a voluntary activity of medium / long term: we think it’s important that the young person is aware of the dimension of gratuitousness of the service and have the desire to donate their time to enter into relationships with people with different kind of difficulties;
- Desire to enter into relationships with homeless and young people and play experience of solidarity that could be important evidence of citizenship for the territory, for the affirmation of the value of social justice and to overcome discriminatory attitudes.

The arrangements to ensure accessibility and transparency in the selection process are:
- The selection criteria are based on the motivation of the volunteer to carry out volunteering experience for medium-long term and interest to a service with homeless and young people, voluntary service at our cooperative is open to all young people, whatever their background, their skills and previous experience;
- We will insert on our website projects for which we seek volunteers and how to access the selections (send CV, covering letter and a presentation by the sending organization accredited - it seems important that in the first phase of the volunteer selection can be supported by his/her sending organization; in the case we receive direct applications from volunteers we'll invite them to find a sending organization in their nearby;)
- We will also send the information about the selection to all sending organisation with which we have already cooperated in previous evs project. In fact it seems important to keep on cooperation with them, if possible, to improve the quality of the projects. But of couse we will keep in consideration also the candidates of new sending organisation.
- We answer to the Candidates who send their application indicating the date of the selection;
- For the selection: we evaluate the CVs and motivation letters arrived with the aim of identifying a shortlist of candidates narrower;
- The shortlist of candidates will be contacted by telephone to a telephone interview: This interview is intended to check the motivation of volunteers, but also to explain in detail all the features of the project and answer their questions; at this stage we will try to explain comprehensively the problems of homeless accepted in order to help the volunteer to see if entering into a relationship with this target may be uncomfortable for him/her or an experience of sharing constructive;
- After the selection of volunteers for all other candidates and sending organizations will be notified by telephone and /or through the contact e-mail of the outcome of the selections and the reasons for the selection of volunteers. People excluded will be asked if they would be contacted in the event that a vacancy.
- Candidates selected will receive a formal notice indicating the success of the selection.
We can simultaneously accommodate up to 2 evs volunteers. In previous experience we have ever hosted one volunteer who could deal with the other volunteers hosted by the cooperative members to Progetto Zattera Blu. The two completed projects have involved the participation of 8 volunteers. We have assured the meeting among themselves through organized and informal activities and this has allowed the peer support and the development of intercultural competences.
Following the evs projects implemented under the coordination of Progetto Zattera Blu, there were collected from educators from different organisation about risk prevention, protection and safety of volunteers. It is therefore a common protocol and shared among Radica, Samarcanda and Adelante cooperative.
To help the volunteers in the performance of voluntary all necessary security measures have been taken in accordance with Italian laws in force, so as to minimize the risk of those involved in the project. Furthermore, the structure that will house the volunteers is authorized by the Local Health Units (ASL). All volunteers will be insured by the AXA-EVS and will be supported for any emergency 24 hours 24.
For the type of services and beneficiaries that we have we cannot host volunteers under 18 years. However, volunteers are never left alone with minors under any circumstances: their task is limited to a support educators / animator. The respect for privacy and security are very important within our communities, both for guests, as for the operators and also for the volunteers themselves. Even being able to stay calm is essential to build a good relationship and good communication with operators and children, as well as making the environment more peaceful community.

For every potential type of risk that there might be and that can come and create, we make a detailed pre-departure information pack - made in collaboration with the sending organization - so that we can provide full assistance and information to the volunteer who is the next departure. The information applies to both the particular project that the volunteer must support as well as any other questions that he might have.

We also ask our partners EVS indicate possible disadvantages or difficulties that potential candidates may have, in order to prevent possible risks and allow a free stay and free of complications. In the case of volunteers with fewer opportunities we describe in the project we intend to take such measures in accordance with their specific needs.

During the first month the volunteers will be given a two-week training (already proven successful in previous projects) to facilitate their understanding and integration in the context in which they volunteer, and all the necessary information they need to understand the more about their job and their role within the community so they will be phased in general activities of the organization. This training environment, as well as help them in their work, support them in any doubt and uncertainty that they may have on how to deal with guests or what they should do in certain situations. This training will be presented people to turn to for all needs: the internal tutor for personal support and practical and technical training and mentor, external figure to turn to for difficult situations or conflict emerging within the host organization .
However, regular meetings will be held between volunteers and professionals so that, with the conversation and confrontation, every problem or conflict can be resolved quickly. We believe that if volunteers are supported and assisted in the best possible way, there is less chance of any complications or problems.

In addition to dialogue with other professionals and tutors (internal) volunteers can contact the mentor as much for the support staff for the support during the training and the process for the Youth Pass. The mentor is external to the host organizations.

Along with training we also support a process of integration with the local community (orientation, transportation, main services, shops, etc..): volunteers will be informed about leisure opportunities, such as trips, parties and other events to which local can participate. In this way will stimulate young European volunteers to come in contact with people in our area and may have approximately the same age, so as to stir up as much as possible the birth of new friendships. It will be stimulated even a meeting with other EVS volunteers who are in our province. Volunteers also will attend Italian language courses at different levels based on their knowledge of the language. The young European volunteers will then be stimulated as much as possible to new contacts and new acquaintances and to make leisure activities that can reduce any feelings of isolation and loneliness that they can come and try.

Life in the Bahita house and outreach work with young people do not have special physical risks but it is definitely an experience of great emotional impact. For their own peace of mind in work and community life is very important that volunteers have the time and space for themselves: for this reason they supported the activities for free time that can play favorites and new contacts. For this they are given two consecutive days of vacation every week and two days off per month.

In the event of crisis situations is informed that the volunteer may contact the mentor and explain his/her problem or difficulty. The mentor will call the contact person of the organization that will illustrate their point of view. In particularly serious cases will be contacted the representative of the National Agency that in previous projects has provided useful suggestions. In the second stage will be convened a meeting between the volunteer, the tutor and the mentor to jointly develop a solution to the crisis.
To ensure the effectiveness of this process the mentor convene three meetings a year to check with the tutor, which collects critical, ideas, requests to help ensure the best possible learning process for the volunteer.

Motivation and EVS experience

Samarcanda is a social cooperative that works for social inclusion of socially excluded people, particularly young people, homeless, women victims of domestic violence. Since 2009, it hosts young European volunteers, who have made an original intercultural contribution to their services.
Samarcanda also hosts local youth volunteers. Adding an European dimension to the voluntary has allowed the implementation of new initiatives and projects.
Evs volunteers testified that the experience has enabled them to develop skills and expertise to increase their ability to perform an active role in their lives, greater awareness of their role as citizens and development of soft skills. Samarcanda believes that to develop solidarity and promote active citizenship and mutual understanding among young people the evs is a method of non-formal education really effective.The EVS volunteers have brought an important contribution to the local community, representing different cultures, which are been enhanced through specific initiatives to combat stereotypes and xenophobia, to promote respect, tolerance and equality at the same time, for many young people; evs volunteers revealed the interest for various exchange programs and give reasons for their participation in international and intercultural activities proposed.
The volunteers have participated also in meetings in local schools and parishes and have become witnesses of a Europe based on relationships between people.

After the knowledge of evs volunteers, 3 young people from Schio started off as volunteers supported by Progetto Zattera Blu.
Samarcanda is really interested in continuing in the reception of evs volunteers. Evs is a great opportunity for young people, as witnessed by the young participants, it allows them to expand their horizons, experience independence, accumulating valuable experience and knowledge, contribute to social projects, develop a sense of identity and solidarity and meet new people.
Samarcanda has designed projects through the coordination of the Cooperative Progetto Zattera Blu, with whom since 2003 consistently realizes projects for greater social equity.
Since 2009, Progetto Zattera Blu has worked to provide visibility to the evs projects carried out in schools, parishes, local authorities and the creation of videos and publications and through the creation of a partnership-building activity.
In these three years of activity through the EVS, it was possible to involve a wider group of young people, offering them a non formal educational experience and at the same time, promote the values of volunteering, social responsibility, and solidarity. The events carried out, with cultural initiatives have allowed volunteers to provide information on the European voluntary service to over 5000 young people from the province of Vicenza.
The collaborative work between Progetto Zattera Blu, Radicà, and two other co-associated (Adelante and Radicà) has allowed us to add value to the evs projects at different levels:
- Educational: the volunteers have been involved in several training initiatives organized especially for them, or promoted for educators and youth services;
- Social-cultural: the creation of a local group of volunteers has ensured peer support, increasing positive awareness of their culture; support of intercultural dialogue;
- Impact: locally the presence of several EVS volunteers have contributed to the fight against prejudice, racism, the encouragement of tolerance and understanding of diversity.

Description of the organisation

Samarcanda is a non-profit organization, founded in 2003 in Schio (VI). Its mission is to promote social equity, solidarity, sustainable development, citizens and youth participation. The beneficiaries of the cooperative are mostly homeless, women at risk of social exclusion and young people.
Samarcanda works with local communities with specific objectives, such as: combating poverty and violence, develop solidarity and tolerance among young people, to promote intercultural dialogue and peace.
Samarcanda provides 4 main services:
- temporary residence for homeless people (Bakhita House);
- specific projects for women at risk of social exclusion and victims of violence (Silk Project);
- youth participation activities (management information centers, social bar, socio-cultural animation);
- administrative services and training to non-profit organizations.

BAKHITA HOUSE is a temporary residence for homeless people. It is located in Schio (VI), in the city center and is open to all, regardless of sex, age, nationality. Provides meals and a safe place where people can stay during all day. Guests are allowed to stay for a maximum of 20 days, but they can be accepted for a longer period, depending on the specific needs. Bakhita can host 17 guests and staff consists of 9 educators and an 1 social assistant. People can access Bakhita House even during the day and / or for meals.
Bakhita organizes many activities for its guests to develop autonomy because people can become self-sufficient, to become agents in their future. Among them:
- Cicloffcina and reuse workshop: workshop reintegration in the work by creating a Ciclofficina where you can adjust bicycles and reflect on the culture of reuse and recycling. In this workshop youth of the area and guest work together to fix bikes
- - Cycle design: creative workshop of reuse of discarded material from Ciclofficina aimed at creating design objects in collaboration with local schools and associations that deal with art . Once produced objects are presented to the territory through specific events, exhibitions or the inclusion initiatives in the area
- Mountain Therapy: Laboratory in natural environment through activities such as climbing, cross-country skiing, hiking, orientation. This allows in particular: the recovery of the relashionship with nature, the rediscovery of the importance of the group and the recovery of the ability to plan and achieve an objective;
- Workshop for increasing people occupability: workshop is aimed at providing information on job opportunities that useful tools in research work, support and stimulate the guests in search of work and involve them in any job opportunities. This is accomplished through activities such as mapping and monitoring of 'job offer, accompanying the active search for work, involvement in career opportunities emerging within the Bakhita House relations with others-learning courses in Italian and English.
- Signs in movement: Laboratory-expression through artistic techniques. The laboratory is characterized by the use of techniques of artistic expression such as painting. In this activity they work to specific painting techniques but also through the use of different materials.
- Theatre Workshop: The workshop will pursue objectives primarily educational, creative and personal development. Ultimate goal that accompanies the entire path is constant research, the acquisition of all theater technical aspects that make the results of the laboratory in the making, a result of quality art-enjoyable.

SILK PROJECT: It is specific project aimed at women with problems of integration of the territory 3 educators (also active at Bakhita House) organze sewing and crafts workshops. These workshops are addressed to young women (homeless or from foreign country unemployed) inside of a shared space with other women in your area can learn job skills related to sewing, but also to other manual jobs expendable in the world of work and recreation especially compared to the situation of distress. Within these contexts, women acquire skills and develop informal relationships at the same time very important to find support in difficult situations.
Samarcanda works with a specific team of animators, to promote youth participation and active citizenship. Specific objectives are: to discover and develop their own needs, interests, learning to act independently and responsibly, play an active role in their communities as citizens, fight against prejudices and stereotypes, understand the importance of coexistence for mutual enrichment of cultures, encourage international youth mobility.
Samarcanda manages the Youth Information Service of the Municipality of Schio (Informagiovani), it offers specific services for young people incluse: information on opportunities for leisure, educational and vocational guidance, information on diversified course.
The team of 8 animators also manages specific projects in the territory, based on the interests of young people participating in the conception, implementation and evaluation of social action and a social bar (SAMBAR), where you can hook new young and organize with them musical and artistic events/initiatives.

Contact Point

Organisation:  Progetto Zattera Blu – Società Cooperativa Sociale Onlus
Address:  Via Lago di Tovel, 16
Postal code:  36015
Town:  Schio
Country:  Italy
Phone:  +39 0445 325393
Fax:  +39 0445 327435
Contact:  Laura Benetello

Last update: 27/09/2012