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The month of May, dedicated to many events to promote the European Union institutions, policies and programmes, ended up in Bologna with the international conference "Beyond Integration. Innovative practices of hospitality and intercultural welfare ", organised by the City of Bologna in the framework of Salus Space project.

Raffaele Barbato, Coordinator of the UIA Initiative, moderated the meeting illustrating the development of the project, its great potential and challenges. Among others, there were Marco Lombardo, Councilor for European and International Relations of the Municipality of Bologna and Peter Ramsden, the expert in Social Innovation in charge from the UIA Initiative to provide scientific support to the Project on social innovation issues.

During the afternoon, a round table on "Tourism as an innovative form of integration" took place, with the presentation of some examples of hospitality that succeeded in developing alongside the traditional business, a form of social integration, actively involving asylum seekers, refugees and people with fragility. Gabriela Sonnleitner, founder of the Magdas Hotel in Vienna, talked about the realisation of the hotel, with the full participation of refugees and asylum seekers. Involvement and mental openness were the key words that allowed the realisation of this structure. In Vienna a big effort succeeded in involving some citizens to actively participate together with the migrants for the recovery of spaces, in a mood characterised by creativity and fun. The result of this experience today is a hotel where different cultures meet in an atmosphere of conviviality, with a team composed by chefs from 14 different countries and where a strong business oriented management and a careful selection of staff allow the actual and efficient functioning of the structure.

 

In Bologna there is another experience, illustrated by Matteo Martino and Mattia Castellani, from Cooperativa La Piccola Carovana, that manages the Hotel “Il Pallone” since 2009. The 40% of employees working in the structure belongs to vulnerable categories and the hotel hosts not only traditional tourists but also asylum seekers, migrants and people in fragile conditions, assisted by educators and included in training paths. Other well-working experiences of small hostels illustrated during the meeting can inspire and bring helpful suggestions to create the best solutions in Salus Space. However, the Project aims to become a new multi functions space, where migrants and other citizens can meet, work and spend free time together and the hostel will have just a marginal role. Anyway, it is true that the hostel will cover an important role in training and employment opportunities for migrants and refugees, offering also a chance to some tourists to get an experiential journey.

The biggest challenge for Salus Space will actually be to combine residential solutions for migrants and local residents, training paths and start-up of small business activities, restaurant, theatre and other useful spaces open to every citizen living in or passing through Bologna.

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Now let’s go on with the demolition of the old Villa!

Author: Salus Space project team

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