Periodically, we introduce you to one of the people leading the work of our member organisations. In this edition, we head to Emilia-Romagna (It) to talk to Alberto Alberani, Head of Legacoop Sociali Regional Committee, Vice President of Legacoopsociali, and Secretary General of ARFIE.
ARFIE: How would you describe your Organisation?
Alberto: In a few words, I would describe Legacoop Emilia-Romagna as the regional representative association of the cooperative enterprises belonging to its network. It represents them towards institutions and trade unions, and offers to its members legal and financial services, as well as trainings in different fields related to social economy and cooperative entrepreneurship. In Emilia Romagna, Legacoop brings together 1.200 cooperatives with a total number of 180 thousand employees, and represents around 3 million members with a turnover of more than 30€ billion euros.
Legacoop Emilia-Romagan key objective is to promote and enhance the values of cooperation, and support the economic and social development of cooperatives at regional level.
ARFIE: Why did you join ARFIE and how would you describe it to a stranger?
Alberto: We joined ARFIE to provide our cooperatives with the opportunity to learn and discover new experiences in the context of a well-established and serious European network.
Legacoop Emilia Romagna counts 220 social cooperatives employing more than 25,000 workers, and providing services to 500,000 citizens at regional level. Social cooperatives provide health care supporting services in several fields: for elderly people, management of nursery schools, reception and integration of immigrants, services for disadvantaged groups, centers for drug addicts. Furthermore, a large part of social cooperatives are active in the field of disability and mental health providing supporting services for people with disability, people with important dependency needs and with associated mental health needs.
To a stranger I would describe ARFIE as the Parmggiano cheese on the tagliatelle al ragu (Bolognese sauce). ARFIE represents a qualitative added value for its members, allowing them to innovate and develop innovative practices and researches, as well as to discover new practices and approaches through mutual learning, comparison, and exchanges. Being member of ARFIE is also an opportunity for growth for professionals and for people with disability and their families who participate in all the European projects promoted by the Association.
ARFIE : What about Italy ? How is disability perceived in your Country and in your Region?
Alberto: In Italy disability is still considered as a problem to be solved by spending (public) money. Despite a great cultural change occurred in the last 40 years, there is still a philanthropic and compassionate approach that prevents people with disabilities from being seen as a resource and as individuals expressing different originality. Thanks also to the UNCRPD and the European Disability Strategy, many steps have been taken, but I fear the populism and racism that we see rising in Europe constitute serious threats for service providers and for the affirmation of the rights of people with disabilities.
In Italy our key partners are the public administrations that entrust social cooperatives with the organisation and management of social services for people with disabilities, services that are mainly funded with public spending. The cooperatives have also important collaborations with the associations representing persons with disability, as well as with the unions.
ARFIE : What are the main challenges in your Country?
Alberto: we need to stabilize the economy and put the economic crisis behind us. Our actions should focus on employment, but with different and innovative approaches oriented to environmental sustainability and the defense and promotion of good practices, also to ensure the financing of the social and health-care system through the encounter between public institutions and social economy organisations.
ARFIE : To conclude tell us something about you
Alberto: My hobbies are travelling and going to the cinema.
I love tagliatelle al ragu (bolognese sauce) and I have a passion for the The Little Prince (I collect editions: every time I visit a new country or region I buy an edition in the local language…so far 63!)
In my free time I like to walk, see my friends, and go watching football and basketball games.