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Of social enterprises and butterflies – Introducing our new collaboration CRISALIS

By Quid’s development team

What can butterflies teach social entrepreneurs working towards social and labour inclusion? When it comes to people who are excluded or vulnerable on the job market, the forceful yet delicate metamorphosis of butterflies offers food for thought. The caterpillar represents potential and talent which, as social entrepreneurs we need to spot and – most importantly – need to help other spotting. The cocoon is the nurturing environment a social enterprise can and should provide. The butterfly, finally, is the confidence and creativity stemming from the process.

As a social enterprise committed to support socially excluded women enter the little inclusive Italian job market, Quid welcomes employees from all walks of life – and has seen transformative processes of all types and shapes over its first six years of work. Ever since its foundation in 2013 Quid has been particularly committed to supporting trafficked women, offering them fair and stable employment and professional growth opportunities. Today 11 of our employees come from a history of trafficking from Bangladesh, Nigeria, China, Morocco, and Pakistan.

Over the last 5 years, however, stats about human trafficking in Italy soared. While Italian authorities are still working on a reliable database on human trafficking within and across national borders, what is clear is that human trafficking mostly affects the most vulnerable: women and children. Women and children are those most exposed to trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation too, causing an unprecedented emergency in our country, as IOM warns: an almost 600% increase in the number of potential sex trafficking victims arriving in Italy via the Mediterranean has been recorded and the estimated number of women victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in Italy is between 75.000 and 120.000, 65% of them are minors. Once they enter national inclusion programmes, what does their future hold?

In response to this emergency and to this question, with the objective to find viable and sustainable strategies to successfully support female victims of human trafficking in their professional future, Quid, together with two international social enterprises, Makers Unite and The Language Project has designed CRISALIS.

CRISALIS (CReative Initiatives in Social enterprises for Assistance, Labour Integration and Self-development) is a scheme aimed at the social integration and economic empowerment of 12 women victims of human trafficking, funded through the EU’s Asylum and Migrant Integration Fund.

The 18-month scheme combining concrete employment opportunities compounded by creative expression workshops and co-creation opportunities is led by and piloted in two young social enterprises, Quid (Italy) and Makers Unite (NL), with the know-how of The Language Project, a Greek organisation working on language as integration tool.

Through knowledge-sharing workshops held in each country of implementation and through a collaborative blog and media campaign, the action endeavours to raise awareness around the issue of human trafficking. A bespoke co-designed accessories collection will celebrate the contribution of creativity to integration, empowerment and fairness in the labour market.

The scheme’s name honours the butterfly’s metamorphosis – one encapsulating the potential for personal and societal change that social enterprises, especially creative ones, represent in today’s civil society.

CRISALIS’ international partnership aims to collaborate closely with the large number of local and national organizations that act on the issue of human trafficking and that have enhanced their first-hand activity in the past 5 years as a consequence of the increased intensity of the issue itself.

A remarkable example of such organizations is Associazione Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII, a not-for-profit entity that was founded in 1958 and that has been working to support women victims of human trafficking for prostitution purposes since 1990, reaching out to hundreds of women every year and being active on 25 different local units across the country. In these units, both duly trained professionals and volunteers are involved in the actions of making contact with the victims and then supporting them through each step of the protection program that they enter, providing shelter in safe houses and guiding them through a path towards social integration and autonomy, with language courses, healthcare, psychological support, educational activities and professional training, and eventually support in job-placement.

Progetto N.A.Ve is another example of the dedicated work done locally and regionally against human trafficking. More precisely N.A.Ve acts as a network that connects crucial actors in the Veneto Region and that was conceptualized in order to implement multi-agency and multi-disciplinary programmes, involving teams of professionals whose skills combined allow to offer a complex inclusion program to beneficiaries. When accessing the N.A.Ve project, beneficiaries are offered support by professionals with expertise in anti-trafficking in terms of educational or psychological support, language or cultural mediation, civil and personal rights.

Recent exacerbation of the emergency has resulted in increasing  awareness amongst stakeholders and in an upsurge in the amount of funding allocated by the government, assigning collectively € 22.5mln in 2017 and € 24mln in 2019 to civil society organizations across Italy, allowing many to expand and elaborate their protection programs, spreading their reach from a provincial to a regional, often cross-regional, scope.

The legal principles and framework supporting such policies are deeply ingrained in the Human Rights discourse, in International treaties as well as on a EU and Italian level.

Article Four of the Universal declaration on Human rights states that ‘No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.’ In 2000, 117 countries drafted and signed a ‘Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Human trafficking in Persons’, Protocol then ratified by Italy in 2006. Yet in Europe the issue has gained increasing relevance: according to the European Commission’s First Anti-trafficking report, the total amount of victims in 2013-2014 were 15.846, 67% being victims of sexual exploitation and 21% of labour exploitation.

To prevent and eradicate the issue the EU has approved a specific regulation on the topic, Directive 2011/36/EU, recognizing the need to provide victims with measures of assistance and support such as medical care, material assistance and translation throughout the criminal proceedings and for the following period.

Such measures haven’t yet managed to hinder the expansion of the trafficking network, and in Italy figures related to victims of trafficking have grown significantly in the past years, especially those related to victims of sexual exploitation, with an increase of victims whose country of origin is Nigeria.

As well as with ratification of the most relevant transnational protocols and agreements, Italy has worked on the creation and adoption of measures that are specific to the italian territory:

  • The Consolidated Act on Immigration, that establishes protection mechanisms based on the issue of residence permits for humanitarian reasons to who’s been victim of human trafficking and subject to violence or abuse and at severe safety risk
  • The Consolidated Act on identification, assistance and social integration (2016), that brings former guidelines together, both on an italian and european level, highlighting the importance of the protection, the social and work inclusion and empowerment of the person, on a financial and housing level.

Despite the magnitude of the phenomenon, the victims don’t benefit from a specific support framework in terms of work integration on a national level. For those who’ve been sexually exploited fiscal reductions can apply at the moment of employment, yet only if they happen to also be recognised as victims of gender-based violence, which isn’t always the case. This is why the contribution on the side of the welfare sector proves especially relevant, and where we hope CRISALIS we’ll make all the difference, setting talent free and people free to flourish and encouraging more creative social enterprises to set up schemes aimed at women victims of human trafficking.

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