ACTIVITIES IN ITALY
Throughout the year, whether before or after their experience at international camps, over 100 volunteers all over the country are involved in a variety of activities. More than 1000 young people are contacted through schools and other formal and informal contexts. A further 2000 learn about us through our events.
Below is a non-exhaustive overview of our areas of activity in Italy.
1) “BECCABIR” GROUP The volunteer experience at “Cesare Beccaria” Institute for young offenders continued and was further developed. After a few early experiments during the Christmas and Easter holidays, our focus gradually became creating the right atmosphere for dialogue with the young people at the Institute. In 2014/15, activities continued as normal with the help of more than 10 volunteers. In addition to the usual recreational activities, they also began working alongside the Institute’s teachers in art, writing, photography, music and theatre classes.
2) EVENTS AND FUNDRAISING maintaining relations with small and large donors and seeking out new sponsors are the two key aspects of the BiR financial policy. In recent years, thanks to these efforts, we have raised between 60 and 80,000 Euros. Nearly 60% of these sums are the result of ongoing relationships with companies and individual donors, while the remaining 40% or so comes from a busy calendar of initiatives organised in the Milan and Como areas to raise awareness and funds. These events range from theatre performances to informal drinks evenings, musical events, sports tournaments and prize draws at initiatives like “Fa la Cosa Giusta” and “L’Isola Che Non C’è”. One important collaboration over the years has been the organisation of the Spring Party in partnership two other voluntary organisations in Milan: Amani and Terre e Libertà, which, along with BiR are part of the AnimalTrib(e) group.
3) TRAINING GROUP Since 2003, a group of volunteers has been involved in the planning, creation, delivery and monitoring of most of the training activities for BiR volunteers. Since 2005, the group has been trained, led and supervised by Nicola Di Pirro, who is still responsible for the BiR training unit.
4) BIR CHE SARÀ: the future of BiRAt the start of 2013, a group of BiR volunteers and operators felt a need to encourage dialogue and exchange between those involved in the association: scattered fragments, paths that cross, numerous points of view, operational groups, individuality and diversity. Heterogeneity and dynamism are wonderful resources, but they can only be put to full use in an atmosphere of sharing and understanding. The aim of “BiR che sarà” is to foster this atmosphere. Through it, we have rediscovered old friendships and developed new ones. The initiative has enabled us to share our dreams and turn them into concrete proposals.
5) VOLUNTEER TRAINING Courses for new volunteers begin in May and end with a weekend in September. These courses are not technical or professional in nature and mainly focus on developing the communication skills needed to be an international volunteer, with various specific objectives:
– understanding the important role of different behaviour models in our cultural identity;
‑ helping individuals to rebuild their cognitive map;
‑ identifying the resources individuals and groups have to deal with unexpected events;
‑ encouraging the autonomy of individuals from their roles and their group;
‑ focusing on emotions and emotional development.
6) TESTIMONIAL GROUP – TESTICOM About 20 volunteers plan and implement initiatives to promote and raise awareness on the theme of volunteering. The purpose of these initiatives is to tell young people and adults about our ideas for active citizenship, by talking about their experiences at volunteer camps and providing information about the areas where we operate. As mentioned earlier, in 2014/15, we engaged with over 1,500 young people and adults. Three types of initiatives were conducted: talks about the activities of BiR with promotion of our summer camps; an interactive workshop on the Convention on the Rights of the Child; targeting specific issues related to diversity, social vulnerability and migration.
7) COURSES FOR PROJECT LEADERS Training also continues for project leaders and takes place between autumn and spring. Each year training involves nearly 40 volunteers taking part in weekend residential and three afternoons work sessions. These courses are for those who have been or will be project leaders on missions in Romania and Moldova and are the point of reference for volunteers throughout the year. The following three areas area covered:
‑ the role and duties of project leaders in Italy, Romania and Moldova (practical information and comparison of best practices);
‑ detailed training on specific content (group dynamics, the institutions and economic systems in Romania/Moldova, specific aspects of projects run directly by the Association);
‑ self-assessment and the mandate of the project leader (the importance of self-assessment and feedback in the selection process for project leaders on missions). These themes are dealt with using the participatory design approach. No projects are designed and implemented by one person in particular, rather they are built up over time according to the pace of the different players and the methods they use. Any inconsistencies they notice become opportunities for developing growth strategies. According to Paulo Freire (Pedagogia in cammino, Mondadori, Milan 1979 | www.paulofreire.org), it is crucial to problematize the living conditions and environment of the people who are to be educated. This way training can be unhitched from someone else’s imposed goals in order to reflect the aspirations of the people concerned. So education is not only the teaching techniques of adults, but rather, is a means by which to guide people to understand their condition.
8) QDL – QUELLI DEL LUNEDÌ (Monday People) Over 40 students and young workers in Milan and Como are open the local offices there in the evening to promote and organise the summer camps, but also to strengthen and engage the network of relationships that are the backbone of BiR.