Empowering migrant communities to speak out in Italy

Published: 21 November 2016 11:39 CET

by Andreea Anca, IFRC


Promise, a 20-year-old woman from Nigeria, says she feels safe in the Italian Red Cross reception centre she has been staying in since surviving a harrowing four-day crossing from Libya to Europe.

She is among several hundred migrants living in the Settimo Torinese reception centre in Turin and whose opinions, fears and needs are being recorded as part of a Red Cross project to make sure people get the support they need most. She says she is dreaming of “a normal life in Europe” as she embarks on the difficult journey through Italy’s asylum system.

The survey Promise is responding to is part of the first phase of a pilot project, supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Ground Truth  - an organization specialized in developing tools for charities to ensure that people’s voices are listened and responded to.

Francesca Basile, the Italian Red Cross Coordinator for Migration at the Settimo Torinese centre, said: “The purpose is to develop additional tools that will help our teams working in the main harbours and in the reception centers to better understand the needs and vulnerabilities of the newly arrived and of the asylum seekers”.

More than 164,000 people have arrived in Italy this year and the Italian Red Cross is committed to fostering a two-way conversation between the people it strives to support, the community and the volunteers.

Leila Castillo, the Head of the Migration at the Italian Red Cross said: “Building trust between the Italian Red Cross and the communities we serve is key which is precisely why this project is an important landmark in our approach.”


“In the future we will also be using this method to gather feedback from host communities too - to find out how they feel with a view to us tailoring the support we offer and making a greater impact,” she added.

The survey designed during the workshop held on 7 - 9 November, is currently being tested at reception centres and other facilities managed by the Italian Red Cross.  


The Ground Truth method has regular feedback from communities at its heart. Its success relies on returning to the people to discuss the findings of  surveys, explore the issues that matter most to people and working on a way forward.


The IFRC`s Community Engagement and Accountability guidelines reflect the need to listen to the suggestions and concerns of people it works with, allowing it to play a more significant role in the preparedness for and response, and recovery from crisis.