Supporting children during the COVID19 crisis: the “Not Alone” Programme in Italy
To alleviate the impacts of COVID-19 policies, many initiatives have been developed by civil society organisations – NGOs, local governments, or citizens. A team of national researchers from the RESISTIRÉ project has collected and highlighted a set of particularly relevant initiatives in 27 European countries and in Iceland, Serbia, the United Kingdom and Turkey. The initiatives currently cover eight specific domains: gender-based violence, the labour market, the economy, gender-pay and pension gaps, gender care gaps, decision-making and politics, environmental justice, human and fundamental rights.
This societal initiative has been collected by Maresa Berliri
The “Not Alone” Programme is an integrated programme implemented by Save the Children in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which aims to tackle educational poverty, the divide in access to distance learning of schools, and the difficulties of fragile families in accessing basic necessities.
It provides support (material, psychological, social, educational, etc.) to children and young people living in vulnerable families and in situations of hardship (including, therefore, for example, unaccompanied foreign minors) and targets children and young people, vulnerable families, new mothers and unaccompanied foreign minors.
Educational poverty during a health crisis
In Italy, educational poverty deprives millions of children and adolescents of opportunities. Children and young people who, because of difficult economic conditions, do not have the same opportunities as their economically stable peers to learn, experiment, develop and allow their abilities, talents and aspirations to flourish freely.
Before the pandemic, educational poverty was estimated to affect 1.2 million children and youth. In 2020, 335,000 new families became poor. According to ISTAT data from March 2021 in Italy, there are 1,346,000 minors living in poverty, equal to as many as 13.4% of children and youth, an increase of about 200,000 minors compared to the 2019 data, to which must be added those in relative poverty – there were about two million in 2019. In addition to the risks of poverty, there are the consequences from the educational point of view, the closure of schools and the difficulties children and young people have in accessing education.
Three other categories at risk are unaccompanied foreign minors, whose path to inclusion risks being abruptly interrupted, children whose forced stay at home increases the danger of domestic violence against their mothers and the children and adolescents directly affected by the disease as well as their parents. The program addresses these four categories of people at risks.
A myriad of activities
The main activities carried out under the programme include:
– delivered tablets, connections and kits with games and educational materials to children from disadvantaged backgrounds;
– activated Punti Luce educational centers throughout Italy to provide online extracurricular educational activities and support;
– supported the school, together with the Fuoriclasse teachers’ movement (involving 170 schools, in its commitment to inclusive and quality distance learning, building an accessible and free online training path for all;
– encouraged students to meet online or by phone, through calls, Facebook groups, Whatsapp and other dedicated platforms to prevent learning loss. In these “virtual” meetings, children and adolescents met for creative activities, music, theater and drawing workshops and much more;
– distributed food kits to families
– provided support to new and expectant mothers (Fiocchi in ospedale and Per mano projects), helping them with the necessities for newborns, such as diapers, milk and baby food, and giving them advice and support in such a delicate phase;
– provided guidelines to domestic violence support services operators in the field so that they can detect dangerous situations for women and children as soon as possible and facilitate their escape;
– activated, thanks to the network of volunteer lawyers, an online legal support desk and guaranteed the operation of the help-line dedicated to foreign minors that responds daily in 6 languages;
– guaranteed, through the Civico Zero network, Italian language courses for unaccompanied foreign minors and distributed educational materials and kits to 45 communities hosting unaccompanied foreign minors;
– provided an initial psychological support service on how to make the best use of time with the children and deal with their anxieties and fears, including the dissemination of videos through social channels;
– involved the Save the Children Youth Movement “Sottosopra” to animate the Change the future platform and the UndeRadio webradio on issues related to the pandemic;
– activated in June 2020 the Future Spaces, equipped areas in the suburbs of our cities intended for play, meeting and educational paths.
A long-lasting impact
The “Not Alone” programme was carried out by Save the Children in collaboration with 41 other mainly civil society organisations in various Italian cities also thanks to funds raised by citizens, businesses and foundations. This was a very multifaceted programme, involving many organizations, with a great deal of staff effort and resource deployment.
Since the end of March 2020, it has involved some 75,000 people; 20,000 people have already been involved during the first two weeks. Starting from June 2020, Save the children launched the national campaign “Rewrite the Future”, a 15-month intervention program that aims to reach 100,000 girls, boys and adolescents on the national territory and their families, and that includes a series of initiatives focused on the need to ensure the rights and meet the needs and requirements of minors in the post-Covid period.
Save the Children Italy is a Non-Governmental Organization with activities and projects aimed at both boys and girls in the so-called developing countries and those living on Italian territory.