In partnership with: ALZAIA – Cooperativa Sociale
How to provide NEETs – young adults who are Not Employed in Education or Training – and people affected by Down Syndrome (DS) with an unmissable opportunity of professional growth?
With the support of Costa Crociere Foundation, constantly active in making the difference at social level in Italian communities, the project The miracles’ shop – will provide a great answer to this issue. A group of NEETs and DS young adults will contribute to the launch of the first shop ever opened at Pisa’s Piazza del Duomo, one of the world’s most famous international tourist destinations.
The European Union has long been watching with preoccupation the emergence of NEETs. These are young individuals who, not being engaged in any training activities or employment, are at higher risk of not regaining access to the world of work. In 2013, for instance, 26% of the Italian population aged between 15 and 29 was not working or attending any type of training course.
People affected by DS also have considerable problems finding a job or integrating in society, especially after they have completed their studies. According to Censis (2011), one in four adults with DS stays at home without being engaged in any type of activity. The majority of those who are aged over 18 cannot find any type of job regardless of their aspirations, personal skills or wages.
When all of these factors are considered, the need for innovative initiatives appears evident, which can instill hope in disadvantaged young people. For this reason, and thanks to the support provided by Costa Crociere Foundation, Cooperativa Sociale ALZAIA has decided to take action through the integrated inclusion of NEET and DS young adults in the launch of La Bottega dei Miracoli, a new social retail enterprise.
Shelters are overstretched and are struggling to provide a temporary roof for both the traditional and the “new” homeless. Food insecurity and housing are not just an issue for men aged 45 to 65 sleeping in doorways, abandoned cars or in derelict buildings because of psychiatric, family, or addiction problems. They are the reality of increasing numbers of single fathers, elderly people living alone, young women with no home or no partner, evicted families, young unemployed foreigners or the working poor.
Miracles’ shop aims to boost the professional and social autonomy of people affected by DS as well as allow young NEETs to regain access to the world of work.
To reach this goal, young adults belonging to both of these categories will be involved in the launch of the first ever shop open to the public at Pisa’s historic Piazza dei Miracoli.
It is indeed a very special location, as the Piazza that hosts the famous Tower of Pisa is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world every year.
The project was created out of an unmissable opportunity, i.e. the chance to run the only shop at Pisa’s Piazza del Duomo.
Miracles’ shop calls for several actions linked with one another, which range from setting up a permanent educational lab – where at least 4 young NEETs and 5 people with DS will be brought in for a work placement every year – to launching a new business with a point of purchase of local organic food products (biscuits, fruit jams, etc.) and non-food items (clothes, make-up products, gadgets, etc.).
The multi-year project will address 4 young NEETs and 5 young adults. They will be starting to work following a training period with specific roles to be defined according to their talents and aptitudes. There is also a possibility that these workers will be supported by people in good health.
Cooperativa ALZAIA is certain that the choice of bringing together young adults coming from disadvantaged backgrounds and young adults with DS can be beneficial to both categories, in that it will motivate both of them and make the young NEETs feel responsible for their colleagues at Miracles’ shop. The experience accumulated and the skills developed by the young adults at the end of the project will enhance their professional knowledge and help them regain access to the world of work or in other businesses in the city.
“No-one must be left behind” is the ethical imperative of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals towards 2030 with the aim of achieving equality and social justice. It is thanks to projects like Miracles’ shop that such guidelines can be put into effect in society.