Mittwoch, 27. Mai 2015

The Cas/Sprar of piazza Armerina managed by the association Don Bosco 2000

On May 25, we have been invited to visit the reception centre of Piazza Armerina managed by the association Don Bosco 2000, which has 46 accommodation places for first reception and further 50 places as part of the SPRAR* project. The association Don Bosco 2000 has been active in the field of reception since 2001 and currently manages also another reception project in the city of Aidone (EN).

The management is mixed also at a structural level, since the guests are divided between a community  facility (a former hostel on two floors that has 4 rooms with 5-6 beds on the ground floor, 4 external bathrooms and double rooms with bathrooms on the upper floor) and 7 independent apartments which are all located within the city centre. Furthermore, the project includes also women and two households.
At our arrival, after speaking to some of the guests who said to be happy, we were welcomed by the legal operator who immediately showed his willingness to illustrate the organizational management of the centre.
The team is composed by a female officer, who is also in charge as a psychologist if necessary, of formulating accompaniment reports in the Commission, a social assistance operator, an Italian language teacher, a female social mediator and a reception operator, two cleaners and two cooks for the internal canteen. The female social mediator is of Nigerian origins, whereas there is no language mediator for guests from Pakistan and Afghanistan who are living at the centre. In addition to giving legal advice to the guests when they arrive at the centre, the legal operator also assists in preparing the hearing at the local Commission. He further deals with linguistic and cultural mediation.
The Italian language course, subdivided in two levels, takes place every morning from Monday to Friday. Many of the guests also attend a course at the local centre for permanent training twice a week in order to obtain the Certification of Italian as a foreign language, while some of the younger guests attend local high schools.
Furthermore, some training internships have been started in collaboration with 15 different approved businesses of the area, and therefore it was possible to offer the opportunity of work placements also to first reception beneficiaries.
Pocket money is being distributed to everyone as shopping vouchers that can be used in diverse types of shops with whom an agreement has been made (like tobacco retailer, groceries, hair dressers).
The officer of the centre explains us that the decision to distribute also the pocket money in form of vouchers relies on the agreement that the CAS** has made with the prefecture, which foresees that the disbursement should not be in cash. Therefore, in order not to discriminate the guests who are part of the project of the prefecture against those who are part of the SPRAR project, it has been decided to disburse the pocket money for all in the same way.
The weekly expenditure of those who live in the apartments is directly managed by the beneficiaries through the disbursement of shopping vouchers. For guests living in the facility, the canteen is internal and two cooks are responsible for the meals that are served at different hours of the day: from 7am to 10am breakfast, from 1pm to 2pm lunch, and from 8pm to 9pm dinner. The facility has different rooms used for the meals.
Moreover, there are several common rooms, from a TV room to an internet room. Besides, considering that the facility is linked to the youth centre of the church, during the day the guests can benefit from additional recreational spaces and several afternoon activities, in which also locals participate.
The wardrobe service is ensured with every season changing through the disbursement of shopping vouchers of 80€ that can be spent in agreed clothing shops.
The impression on the management of this centre is positive and the fact that the managing association is committed to guarantee the reception standards of the SPRAR system to all guests results to be a fundamental aspect. Indeed, it is this casual mixture which ensures that even the first reception is dignified and in support to a process of autonomy.
However, the severe problem of the long waiting times for the hearing at the Commission remains. A problem that afflicts, as always, most of the guests. All those with whom we spoke illustrated this problem. In particular, one of them has been waiting for his convening for 17 months. The problem of waiting is experienced by all the guests. As explained by the officer of the centre with whom I spoke, The Commission of Enna is proceeding very slowly with an average of just 4 convening per week, although the Commission has been active since last May 16. Furthermore, it shows not to have a calling criteria for the order of the convenings, which seems to be casual instead of following the date in which a request has been made.
On this issue we heard that within the CAS of Pergusa, which we visited last month and where the average waiting times for the convening to the Commission of Enna were about 15 months (because of the repeated transfers of asylum seekers and consequentially the change of the responsible Commission), there have been further demonstrations and only now the first convening have been made.

Giovanna Vaccaro
Borderline Sicilia Onlus

Translation: Chiara Guccione

*CAS – Centri d’Accoglienza Staordinaria: centres for extraordinary reception
**SPRAR – Sistema di protezione per rifugiati e richiedenti asilo: protection facilities for asylum seekers and refugees