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
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Software / Web Developer - ASP.NET

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company produces a wide ra...

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones