The DRC-run Helpdesk in Italy works through a hotline manned by legal advisors and cultural mediators who are on call all day, five days a week, to help Ukrainian refugees navigate and find the right help upon their arrival. This service was set up immediately in the aftermath of events unfolding in Ukraine since 24 February 2022 causing large waves of displacement – internally but also beyond border, including to Italy.
‘Italy has a large Ukrainian diaspora and many of those who arrived in the past one year have been able to make their way to safety and to find accommodation via their own networks. But along the way, new questions and uncertainties arise where people may need access to legal aid, financial assistance, and support to health and psycho-social matters. It is of course even more difficult to navigate in a new context when people don’t know the language, are traumatised and have left their homes often at the last minute. That’s why we set up the central helpdesk as a platform to help coordinate and refer people to adequate support,’ says Giulia Spagna, Country Director for DRC in Italy.
The Helpdesk in Italy was initially set up with financial support from a pool of emergency response funds donated to DRC to respond to the Ukraine displacement crisis across Europe. Building on the impact and positive results in Italy, two local private foundations (Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo and Rotary International) stepped in to provide financial support afterwards and DRC then advocated with the State authorities to take over the project financially.
In one year, the DRC Italy Helpdesk has provided direct support to 8,500 people with information, referrals, accompaniment, and documentation, and well as directly handled over 1,750 complex legal cases. As most of the requests came from families, the indirect reach of the project is estimated to be much higher, including many minors. The Helpdesk covers primarily Piedmont, a geographic region in Northern Italy where it is taken over as of May 2023, funded retrospectively, and from here on managed collaboratively by DRC, with the Italian Civil Protection, the Consulate of Ukraine, and Piedmont Regional Authorities.
The Helpdesk can be reached in weekdays at +39 01 14 32 67 00 from 9:00 to 19:00
For more information about DRC in Italy and the Helpdesk, please contact DRC at [email protected]