Community Centre – Italy

Italy is not the first place most people think of when it comes to needy and marginalised people… but LiveTwice is proud to support “Un Aiuto per la Vita”, a community centre and shop in the centre of Italy. Un Aiuto per la Vita translates as “An Aid for Life” and is community centre in Umbria, Italy. This diverse project was set up in 2011 to help address some of the many unmet needs in the community of Città Della Pieve. The project leaders, Julia and Giuseppe, aim is to reach out to the poor and marginalised in the town so the Centre acts as a welcoming drop-in space for anyone who is in need.

The community centre is a place for lonely elderly people to drop in for a coffee and some company as well as toddler groups to support struggling mothers and the only youth group in the town – providing an alternative for teenagers to spending time on the street and in the woods where there is a growing drug culture. In 2014 they began to offer parenting and marriage counselling, they also regularly visit care homes for the elderly and hospitals as well as people in their own homes as and when needed.

It also hosts the only charity shop in the region. Unlike the UK, charity shops are almost unheard of in Italy. This is one of very few in the whole country and certainly one of a kind in the area. Clothes are usually thrown away and the idea of recycling household goods or wearing donated or vintage clothing is rare. In this revolutionary store in the heart of the community, clothes, shoes and other items are donated, sorted and sold on at affordable prices – usually a Euro or two. The funds raised from this shop are split 50:50 – one half goes towards paying the bills to ensure the Centre stays up and running, whilst the other half is carefully spent where it can be of most benefit to those in need of a helping hand. Often this means something as simple as a gift of much needed groceries for the hungry or other vital practical help for those who fall outside the safety net of welfare.

A small church service is held in the centre every Sunday and these popular gatherings offer a significantly different style of Christian fellowship than the more formal Catholic churches in the area. People from all backgrounds and walks of life are always welcomed. To find out more, visit their Facebook page or blog site, they would love to see you if you are on holiday or visiting the area. There are many challenges for this fledgling community project here in Central Italy selfless dedication of this deeply caring couple gives them the hope they need to persevere with and complete the work they have in front of them.

Increasingly there has been a growing numbers of young migrants, largely from Nigeria, who have been placed in hostels in the town by the government. This project provides clothes, shoes, hygiene products and companionship to these people. This innovative centre is always looking for ways to support those in the community, providing invaluable emotional, social and economic support.

Over the past six years the centre has gone from strength to strength and has become such a popular focal point in the community that towards the end of 2016 Julia and Giuseppe realised the centre had outgrown it’s current premises.  Unable to find anywhere big enough in the centre of town, they have found a new building just outside above a new supermarket. In early 2017 they took possession of the new property and spent the Spring working alongside local volunteers and friends decorating and refurbishing the property ready to welcome visitors through the doors.  The centre is now open and thriving and with a new addition of it’s own little kitchen is able to provide simple meals.  Liz and Patrick Drummond visited the newly opened centre in May and were absolutely thrilled to see the progress that had been made with this wonderful facility providing for those in need in the community.

Photos above: the electrics being installed in the new centre, the games area in action and the kitchen – a room with a view!

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