According to 2020 data, in Italy about 5.6 million people live in absolute poverty and about 8 million in relative poverty. In Northern Italy, the worst figure.
Every month, COOPI helps a growing number of families and elderly people in difficulty, in Milan and Varese, by distributing food, but also baby products and basic necessities. This activity is carried out within the project "Fighting poverty in Italy", mainly financed by the organisation, with the funds of the 5x1000.
The families benefiting from this service have increased exponentially, due to the socio-economic effects of Covid-19 first and the war in Ukraine then: starting from 140 in March 2020, reaching 412 families in August 2022, for a total of more than 1,200 people. The lonely elderly represent the most significant increase.
The identification of families is achieved through the social services of the municipality and through a home visit by COOPI staff. Our Organisation operates in a network and has continuous exchanges with the actors of the QuBì programme, promoted by the Municipality of Milan, to monitor the state of need and the response to be carried out.
A part of the food is provided by Banco Alimentare (an Italian national food bank network) and is delivered at home, if the elderly person or the family is in great difficulty. As of September 2021, distribution takes place mainly in Piazza Selinunte, a space assigned to COOPI by the "Luci a San Siro" project (promoted by ALER, in collaboration with the Politecnico and the Municipality of Milan).
The distribution of a bag of food is the first step in cultivating a relationship with people; for this reason, in Piazza Selinunte, COOPI has also set up an information desk, open on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Here it helps people to deal with difficulties, provides help in using the SPID, and guides them towards associations in the neighbourhood specialised in work and social reintegration, parenting support, and legal support.
The project "Fighting poverty in Italy" is a continuation of the work that Father Vincenzo Barbieri, founder of COOPI, carried out personally since 1999 in the Milan area and that the organisation took over, the day after his death, with the help of volunteers and full-time operators to coordinate all the activities.
In Lombardy, almost two out of every hundred people are forced to live on just over €400 per month, and Milan is the province where the situation is most critical: there are more than 45,000 families in need of support. By August 2022 only, COOPI had reached the previous year's total of 35 tonnes of food distributed.