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


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.

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
voicesBy the man who has
people... and stop them from attacking people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?