Charity begins at home for recession-stricken Italians

Charity Auitare i bambini allows Italians to 'adopt' children to make sure they have enough to eat

Rome

Italy’s better-off citizens are by now accustomed, like the rest of Europe’s chattering classes, to the concept of “adopting” a child in poverty stricken Africa.

But after the most brutal recession in living memory, charity is now starting closer to home for some Italians, with hundreds choosing to offer vital financial assistance to local children, rather than youngsters in the Third World.

Despite being based in one of the world’s richest countries, the Milan charity Auitare i bambini (Help the Children), has revealed how 400 local infants have been “adopted” in the past six months by concerned citizens who want to ensure that impoverished compatriots have enough to eat and have a place in nursery.

The group’s spokesman Alex Gusella said: “Since the charity was founded in 2000 we’ve been helping people ‘adopt’ infants from afar in countries in Africa and Asia. Then last year we said: ‘Why not allow people to offer the same help to babies in this country?’ Unfortunately Italy is one of the European countries in which levels of child poverty are highest.”

Auitare i bambini has established links with seven nurseries around Italy, from Piemonte in the north to Sicily in the far south. Patrons are able to sponsor a baby aged from six months to three years old in any of the seven establishments, thereby ensuring the nursery fees are paid and they are fed properly. “The main point is this allows the mothers to go out and work,”  Mr Gusella told The Independent.

Demonstrators clash with riot police during a protest near the Italian parliament in Rome Demonstrators clash with riot police during a protest near the Italian parliament in Rome (Getty Images) The development shows how Italy, Europe’s centre of fashion, fine dining and football, suffers from pernicious wealth inequality. And it underlines the gravity of the economic problems facing the country as the new Prime Minister Matteo Renzi promises radical measures to kickstart its moribund economy, which has seen youth employment soar to 40 per cent. The level of women working in Italy is only about 50.5 per cent, among the worst in Europe.

Earlier this month, figures from the government revealed how one Italian household in four is facing serious financial hardship. According to the report titled “Noi Italia” by the national statistical agency Istat, 24.9 per cent of households in 2012 were in a situation of “deprivation”, meeting at least three of the agency’s nine poverty criteria.

These include the inability to meet unexpected expenses, falling behind in loan payments or being unable to afford a meal with a high-protein content at least once every two days.

Sonia Pedretti, the head of the nursery assisted by Auitare i bambini in Marcheno, near Brescia, said she was delighted by the arrival of “adoption close to home” scheme. “In this area, the economic situation has deteriorated with crisis in the steel industry,” she told Gente magazine.

“Very often the families aren’t able to pay the nursery fees. Last year we had only six babies. Now with the adoption scheme we have 14.”

Experts have been warning for the past few years of a child poverty crisis in Italy. Giacomo Guerrera, the president of the Italian branch of Unicef, said last summer that the extent of the problem in his country was “extremely alarming”. “Some countries are doing much better than others to protect the most vulnerable. Since the situation in Italy is not improving, action is needed,” he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all