From 2014 to 2019, the “Hope” solidarity fund provided multiple inclusion opportunities to asylum seekers hosted in the national first-line reception system. Created by a network of local associations active in the first-line reception system (CAS), the fund aims to foster asylum seekers’ autonomy and inclusion from an economic and professional point of view.
Issue/challenge and goal/assumption
The “Hope” solidarity fund was born in 2014 with the aim of providing further inclusion opportunities to asylum seekers hosted in the Italian first-line reception system. In Italy, the Ministry of Interior through local prefectures is in charge of the first-line reception system, with the support of third sector organisations. In contrast to the Italian second-level reception system, it has limited economic resources to support asylum seekers’ inclusion paths (i.e., restricted access to vocational training, job placement opportunities, and Italian language classes). With the goal of filling these gaps, the “Hope” solidarity fund offered supplemental services, fostering asylum seekers’ inclusion opportunities within the territory.
How does it work
The fund was used to finance the following measures addressed to hosted asylum seekers:
- Work grants: asylum seekers were offered the possibility to undertake three-month vocational training. In addition to acquiring specific professional skills, the trainee received a monthly remuneration of 500€;
- Vocational training opportunities: through active collaboration with different training institutions (more than 25), numerous vocational courses were set up for asylum seekers, giving them the possibility of strengthening their professional skills;
- Support contribution: a sum of 250 euros was paid to asylum seekers leaving the first-line reception system in order to provide them with economic support to pursue their inclusion paths;
- Housing contribution: the fund provided up to a maximum of 1 200 euros for the payment of rent during a person's initial months, and for the security deposit required to secure a regular rental contract.
The fund raised 1 380 265 euros by 30 April 2019. Between 2014 and 2019, 2 328 asylum seekers (of whom 34% were from Nigeria; 11% from Gambia; 8% from Ghana, 7% from Ivory Coast and Mali; 5% from Bangladesh, Senegal, Guinea Conakry, and Pakistan; 2% from Guinea, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Burkina Faso; and less than 1% from Guinea Bissau, Morocco, Togo, Niger, Benin, Liberia, Eritrea, Tunisia, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Egypt, Somalia, and Syria) were able to benefit from this money. In particular, the fund provided:
- 761 work grants;
- 1 219 vocational training opportunities;
- 295 support contributions;
- 53 housing contributions.
Recent transformations in the Italian reception system, notably budgetary cuts, resulted in the closure of this initiative. Nevertheless, its relevance is attested by the creation of a new fund, “Fondo Speranza”, which includes a larger number of local actors. Building on the success of the previous fund, Fondo Speranza aims to foster economic autonomy and professional opportunities for vulnerable individuals: both Italian and migrants.
Various specific evaluation tools have been developed to evaluate the impact of the “Hope” solidarity fund and to monitor asylum seekers’ inclusion paths over time. Further, the organisations involved developed particular methods for supervising the management and disbursement of available funds (i.e., through the creation of the “Organo di monitoraggio”, “Tavolo tecnico”, and “Cabina di regia”, each with a specific role in the project).
Who will benefit?
The main beneficiaries of the “Hope” solidarity fund are the asylum seekers hosted in the first-line reception system. Local enterprises and training institutions can also be included as indirect beneficiaries, as through the initiative they gain a more specialised workforce. Local communities benefit indirectly too, from the broader social cohesion that the fund facilitates.
Source of funding and Resources used
The “Hope” solidarity fund was financed through the allocation of a daily quota for each asylum seeker hosted within the reception programmes (between 0.50 and 1.00 euro per day per person, depending on the period). In addition, school classes, parish groups, and citizens contributed financially to the creation and sustainability of the fund.