In recent years Milan citizens have developed needs that the City of milan is no longer able to cope with. Available data tell us that welfare services are directed to a minority of citizens, creating a gap with all the others.
But what are the main changes taking place?
The aging population;
The reduction in resources due to the economic and financial crisis;
The changing role of the family, its components and its characteristics;
The question of the role of youth in society;
The increasing multiculturalism.
In particular in Milan:
In Milan, the ultra elderly residents aged over 60 are 394 673 (about 30%), mostly women (233,863). Of these 25% are people alone, who then often they face the last part of life in solitude.
Among these are the “very elderly” (over 80) are 94,330.
The elderly non self-sufficient are about 40,000 and they have a lot of care needs and the main caregivers are familiars (usually sons) and health and social services.
These numbers also explain the growing significance of the phenomenon of the informal care market, the caregivers for elderly people.
The phenomenon is significant in Milan if you consider that in the city are estimated around 32,000 caregivers, both legal and illegal.
It 'also important to note that only 25% of the 39,000 non self sufficient elderly people living in Milan receive formal care provided by Municipality.
WHERE ARE THE OTHERS?
THE ROLE OF WOMEN
The role of women/ mother in Milan is increasingly complex. Just think that in Milan, in 2011, appear to be residents 383,221 women aged between 25 and 65 years and that the female employment rate in the city is 62.70%.
The above described demographic change also determines a situation where women who are 40 years old today can expect to share about 22 years of their lives with at least one elderly parent, 4 years longer than those born in 1960 and 10 years more than women born in 1940.
The Milanese women are, therefore, for most working women, whose problems of conciliation between family and work are even more marked than women of other cities of Italy.
Children in Milan between 0 and 6 years old are 83,605 of which only 6,902 are enrolled in pre-schools or nurseries and only 5,600 are enrolled in pre-school services and after-school primary school.
WHERE ARE THE OTHERS?
FRAGMENTATION OF RESOURCES
We also found a strong fragmentation between public funds used for care and a lack of coordination. 43% of these resources comes from the State, Region, Municipality and Local Public Health Agency, the other part are cash resources that come from INPS (National Insurance Contributions).
The project “Welfare of all”
The idea is to create the conditions to make sure that everyone has access to opportunities provided by the welfare, regardless of economic conditions, and that anyone can have an active role in the welfare and thus responsible for the improvement of society. Therefore the name of the project: Welfare of all.
This approach seems to us really innovative. Adolfo Ceretti and Roberto Cornelli (partner of our project with the National Centre for Prevention and Social Defence) told us: "The claim of recognition of civil and social rights, after having supported the gradual expansion of the Western democracies, becomes more and more an individual claim that tends to exclude, in the name of “my own right”, those of others. “My” right to public housing, the provision of “my” child daycare, and even the right to receive adequate medical care is seen in contrast with the rights of others. We prefer to support the removal from the list of those who "are not as much citizen as I am "- rather than to claim services that reach everyone.
In a context where human relationships are more rarefied, the solidaristic relations are weak, the gap between social segments is dangerously exploding. Insecurity and uncertainty have made the idea of community something relative and fragile. "
Wemi is developing an online platform that enables simple access to home care services of the City, making it possible for citizens to request new services, or in different ways, creating new solutions together, giving you the chance to find personalized answers.
We realized also two territorial platforms, ie two listening spaces for citizens in the aim to promote the sharing of offers and needs among citizens. The territorial platforms perform the same function of the digital platform but in three different physical locations.
In these spaces people are helped to find the services they need, but also they are encouraged to share needs and services between groups of citizens, in the aim to aggregate the needs and provide shared answers . These services then work directly with families and traditional third sector associations.
Online and physical platforms are innovative tools because they force the entire system to rethink: the City of Milan has to change its vision of citizens and the world of the third sector needs to open up to new citizens and think again an adequate business model.
Finally thanks to some ideas received during some design sessions WEMI is implementing two pilot projects: “Apartment Block Welfare”, with apartment block caregivers/home helps, and “School Welfare”, working with local schools, with a view to better integrating welfare provision.
Apartment Block Welfare
Financial education for social operators
Which are the main difficulties that we found?
We found different kind of difficulties.
From the point of view of the City of Milan we’re working with new tools that are very different from the typical ones. For example, we had to think about a new way to communicate services to citizens, trying to build a new visual identity system with the Department of Design at the Politecnico. Moreover we need to build a new language with the traditional actors (cooperatives, NGOs…) that can be understood by citizens (not technical language).
Another difficulty has been to help no profit organizations to think new kind of products, beyond their traditional services in order to be able to answer to new and different needs.
So the biggest challenge is to get out from traditional logic, in relation to how we think, how we communicate and we distribute services.
We believe that this new way of thinking services might lead to great opportunities, but we still need to prove that this idea is true. So we need to be brave and really believe and work on this idea.
In this sense the role of the Municipality is important because only Municipality can take the risk of innovation and make an investment that the private social agencies alone could not do, as they are forced to face objective difficulties also linked to a long economical crisis.
What do you think? Do you know similar projects? Do you have suggestions for us?
All comments will be useful for building together this difficult road of Welfare innovation.