The K-Pax social cooperative, based in the region of the Camonica Valley in Italy, has developed an effective model of asylum seeker reception, based on dispersed accommodation and individualised training paths. However, the cooperative’s distinctive feature has been its strong engagement in the development of the local community. The cooperative has progressively shifted from simply supporting the integration of asylum seekers to becoming involved in the valorisation of local resources and in the development of the local welfare system.
Photo by Luca Giarelli / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Issue/challenge and goal/assumption
Industrialisation has deeply affected the territory of the Camonica Valley, creating a severe impact on the environment and the landscape. Following the crisis of the industrial district model in Italy, mayors and local associations have sought a more environmentally sustainable management of local resources over the last ten years. At the same time, due to the so-called North Africa Emergency, a growing number of asylum seekers started to be relocated in this region.
The K-Pax Social Cooperative therefore promotes a valuable model of integration that not only facilitates socio-economic integration of asylum seekers in the local community but also contributes to the development and revalorisation of local resources.
How does it work
The K-Pax Cooperative promotes a model of reception based on dispersed accommodations, individualised training paths for beneficiaries and strong community engagement.
K-Pax manages and helps with accommodations for asylum seekers in different towns in order to facilitate interactions with inhabitants throughout the region, thereby reducing the concerns of local inhabitants as they gain more familiarity with asylum seekers.
The organisation helps asylum seekers develop personalised training paths through individual meetings with specialised social workers and joint activities under the supervision of experts. Integration activities could include, for example, language courses and assistance with social support services.
Over time, K-Pax has established numerous relationships with local employers interested in hiring asylum seekers, for example local restaurants.
K-Pax has also invested in other activities that have social and local relevance:
- In 2013, it bought and assumed the management of a previously abandoned hotel, the Hotel Giardino. The hotel has been certified through the EcoWorldHotel platform and employs four migrants. The opening of the hotel has contributed to the revival of local tourism.
- The organisation has established a small charity shop La soffitta del Re (The attic of the king) to collect and sell used clothing and shoes. The shop is managed by volunteers.
- Through an agreement signed with the Camonica Valley Territorial Enterprise for personal services, K-Pax committed to re-distributing part of the income generated by its activities to fund internships and housing for women who are victims of domestic violence and/or at risk of social exclusion.
K-Pax helped to activate 45 internships in 2017 and 54 in 2018. Moreover, thanks to K-Pax, several foreign persons have found a job—19 in 2017, 16 in 2018 and 2 during the first two months of 2019.
K-Pax employs five foreigners, and three of them are members of the cooperative. These five people are employed in different sectors. Four of them work in the Hotel Giardino while one works in the used clothing shop and in activities supporting people with mental illness.
In 2017, twelve local women have been involved in internships funded by K-Pax.
Who will benefit?
K-Pax’s main beneficiaries are asylum seekers, but target beneficiaries also include other vulnerable groups who are indirectly supported through the Camonica Valley Territorial Enterprise for personal services. Moreover, thanks to the success of the cooperative’s economic activities, the local community has enjoyed a revival of local tourism.
Source of funding and Resources used
The social cooperative draws on a mix of resources:
- Contracts with public authorities following competitive bids and/or contractual agreements in the framework of the asylum reception systems
- Money generated through trading activity, which has increased significantly over the years thanks to the success of Hotel Giardino and sale of used clothing and shoes
- Grants and donations
- Voluntary work
- K-Pax Social Cooperative
- Carlo Cominelli