The receiving of asylum seekers and refugees – people forced to leave their home country to escape war, insecurity and lack of freedom – is a duty involving not only the national and European environment but also the territories, administrations and civil society.
Bologna is doing its bit too with various welcoming projects, among those of which is Sistema di Protezione dei Richiedenti asilo e dei Rifugiati (SPRAR) (System of Protection for Asylum Seekers and Refugees).
With the Bologna cares! campaign, the Municipality of Bologna intends to inform the citizens of the issue of asylum and refugee protection and communicate the activities which are being put into action by institutions in our city in an effort to confront the needs of the welcoming process.
The communication campaign Bologna cares! was founded in 2014 as a result of the wishes of the Municipality of Bologna. The campaign’s pilot year centred on the analysis of the forces driving millions of individuals annually to flee their home country in search of protection elsewhere. The objective was to understand the difference between economic migrants and asylum seekers who undergo these journeys having been forced to flee from grave situations of insecurity, war and environmental emergencies.
Among the initiatives carried out in 2014, which mostly took place around the 20th June (World Refugee Day), we remember the convention “Italy and the common European System of Asylum” in which the Italian government, local institutions and the civil society took part. There was a photographic exhibition “Sanpshots from the border” displaying snapshots of receiving in areas on the borders of Italy, Malta, Hungary. Demonstrations with photos of and testimonies from refugees addressing the “why” behind their escape were posted on city buses with the slogan “My city does its bit” while the volume “All of life on a page” gathered together a selection of memoirs of asylum seekers who moved to Italy between 2010 and 2014.
In 2015 the Bologna cares! campaign focused instead on the stories of asylum seekers who, after being received and having been granted status, were followed in their journey of insertion into the Italian social-economic context and who were able to create a fruitful path to integration. This topic pays particular attention to famous historical refugees with the aim of putting the spotlight on those figures who have left a mark in history and who in turn were forced to abandon their home country. Among these are women and men who, in facing exile in a new country, did not let themselves be overwhelmed by the situation but who continued to work and express themselves, leaving a mark on humanity which can never be erased. These are characters such as Dante, Chopin, Einstein, Rita Levi Montalcini, Mirian Makeba, Hannah Arendt…
The campaign has made a workshop video featuring refugees from the city and from which came a promotional video with refugees dressed up as three historical figures such as Einstein, Chopin and Dante. In addition to this, the campaign made: a series of posters which were displayed on city buses, a comics workshop and finally a convention on the occasion of World Refugee Day.
The theme of the 2016 edition was the recognition of the reception of asylum seekers as a necessary and routine activity on the social scene both nowadays and for the future.
The “reception effect” has positive and constructive repercussions, while the “lack of reception” fosters poverty and exclusion. In various environments (health, home, relations, work) there can be a clear difference between cases where the individual is received and those where they are not, with repercussions affecting the entire social fabric.
An important role in these journeys of integration is played by sport: it is through competitive experiences and not through the physical body that relationships are strengthened. In light of this, a sort of map showing the sporting activity carried out by residents from the different reception structures in the Bologna area was created and videos showing the commitment of some asylum seekers in this environment was made.
Sport and the “reception effect” were, therefore, at the heart of the initiatives put forward in 2016: from the animation video to the journalism workshop, from the city bus campaign to the Africa e Mediterraneo dossier.
This edition also included graphics with data and figures from the reception system in the metropolitan area of Bologna which were uploaded onto the campaign’s site and are updated monthly.
The comunication campaign is curated by Lai-momo in collaboration with Africa e Mediterraneo and Human Rights Nights.
The Project System of protection for asylum seekers and refugees by the Municiaplity of Bologna is run by: Asp, Municipality of Bologna, Servizio centrale SPRAR, Lai-momo soc. coop., Arcolaio, Camelot and Mondo Donna.