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Case story: man 26 years old

How long have you been attending our activities? (the cooperative/day care centre)

About 6 months

Can you tell me about your life before coming to the Centre? 

I grew up in the suburbs of Catania and then moved to Rome. Because my father (who adopted me) was Sicilian. He had come to Rome to renovate buildings and then he met my mother and they both moved down south, to Sicily, and they came to get me from Romania. But then, since my grandfather (father’s father) was a mess, he made a mess (he worked for “Cosa Nostra”[1])…at some point we all had to move to Rome. I was in Sicily from 2000 to 2006… that is when I was 10 years old, because when they adopted me I was 4 years old… then I came to Rome when I was 10.

We knew each other in Rome because my mother’s grandparents were in Rome… that is, my mother’s grandparents are from Rome, even though my grandmother is of Neapolitan origin and my grandfather from Florence (Question: and are these grandparents alive…?), yes, but they are not well, grandfather has senile dementia….

…apart from that… then I had work experience here in Rome… inside the Palace Hotel, at the Hotel Imperiale, and then at Zuma’s in Palazzo Fendi on Via del Corso in Rome.

I did five years of study in Secondigliano (Naples) at Voltaire Institute (VET); Kindergarten in Catania; primary school in Rome.

And how were you at school, how was it going

Well…I was never a great student…I didn’t like it at all…but I got along well with the others….

Apart from that I had other experiences…

I did 3 years of school at CIOFPS[2] in Testaccio (Rome), but then since there is only the three years and they give you a kind of certificate….then mum said you have to do something to complete the diploma and also do another Course in that area….and have another title in that area…

So I used to go back and forth for the Sommelier Course once a week coming from Naples….

I struggled a lot: it was tiring because I arrived by train and it took me an hour and a half and then the time it took me to get to the Course in Balduina[3], I did 1 and a half hours of the Course and then I went back to the station and took the train back to Naples… all that at a certain point…

I finished the Sommelier Course and I finished the Hotel School…so I got the title.

Then what happened?

My father was ill and I had been meddling for a long time anyway… in Naples, from Sicily all the way to Rome… “forget about it”… we used to send kilos of cocaine from Sicily…

(Interviewer: You can talk quietly and it’s confidential… no need to go into details… you had difficulties)

I made my mistakes and paid for them

…then I got sick and started abusing drugs…it lasted for 3 years then they jailed me. I did 2 years in prison and almost 5 years in the community … the community manager now tells me ’I don’t want to see you any more’ and I don’t want to see you any more either … sooner or later it will end, hopefully it will be understood that it was a youthful mistake and hopefully I will find a job and be able to get out….

Interviewer Well but this is everyone’s collective project…it’s up to you, the Day Centre, your psychiatrist….

What fundamental problems have you faced in your life? 

I would say the fundamental problems in my life…I would say it was the death of my father and drugs…those there

Did you use hard drugs?

Cocaine… but I just snorted it, I’ve never shot up in my life and I don’t even care… and then hashish and marihuana and alcohol, yes I did a mixture and then all together in the end you lost your mind…

What is your current life situation? What are your activities, who do you live with?

My current life… I’m in the community and do a few things a week because they’ve realised I can’t stay there any more so I don’t do much.

This community is far from Rome, it must be 60 km from Castel Madama[4] (Rome)  It’s a psychiatric clinic… it doesn’t necessarily belong to people who have committed a crime… people who are out of their minds and who maybe have drug problems also come here.

But aren’t you always there?

….. I do a week 4 days and a week 2 days in Rome and I come to the Day Centre and stay with mum and my sister who is fixing up her house, but she’s still with mum

Could you say what you have achieved by participating in the Day Centre’s activities? (if you found them)

I have found them: motivation, above all competent people who help me with the little problems I have…. so I get along with all the kids, I get along with the operators…. in my opinion it’s already a lot for me in my opinion…

What kind of support do you feel you need?

The kind of support and help for me would be a direction to a job….

To freshen up my craft more than anything else …. brush up some of the hotel school stuff I did…I like the bar in particular…making coffee, lattes, cappuccinos…. I used to make such a great cappuccinos !!!

There is a tik tok barista who makes artistic cappuccinos!

What is your relationship with other people? How do you feel in contact with others at the Centre?

Very well… I get on very well with the other guys… then if one can have fun with other, having a laughs is good.

Is there anyone important you can particularly trust? (in the organisation, as a peer, friend, etc.)?

No for me they are the same….

One you think you can particularly trust?

but not this one… because anyway, coming twice a week there is not enough to be friend … an account is that maybe you increase my frequency a few days and there is more possibility to know and trust each other?

What does the term ”inclusion” mean to you?

You say being inside…. I feel quite included because normally, every Thursdays, I do the activity with you and then every Fridays I do the cooking workshop…

Do you feel part of a ”community”/”a group”? 

Yes yes…. I feel part of a group

If yes, what kind of community/group (how would you define it)? 

A rehabilitation group at work

It’s different from a group of friends

I think so because we are in an place of the Department of Health system…everyone has their own things on their mind in my opinion…but without going to see the problems of others…together we try to improve

What does ’being part of a community/group’ mean to you?

For me it is important to be part of this group because it means that I have almost reached the end of my journey with the community…so just coming home and presenting myself here at the centre is already something very important. I feel I belong to this group

What do you think creates a sense of belonging to a group/community?

The fellowship between the members of the group… The fellowship is created by telling each other about work experiences, what we did before, what we did after…the various changes we have undergone in life

Do you think it’s important to do an activity with a purpose or is it important just to be together?

Just being together doing nothing doesn’t help you…however, doing something gets us to a goal that is prescribed for each of us…

…For me it is important to recover technical skills

What are the characteristics of a ’good community’/’good group’?

A good group… how can I put it, it’s created slowly… and then as you go along it’s obvious that it becomes a good group… In our group, the friendliness of F., or of D. that is, I get on very well with them.

And with the operators?

…with the operators as well… I can’t stand the Castel Madama operators anymore. But it’s different here… it’s new… I haven’t been here long so it’s all fresh…

What are the aspects to be considered to make interaction between the community and the rest of society as simple/fluid as possible?

To get the word out you say… I don’t know about that… I can’t give you an answer… Making posters, I don’t know?

Let’s take an example instead of you opening a business … you open a bar … how do you make it known?

Well these days on Facebook, on Tik Tok, on Instagram … people see and know then … slowly it spreads and little by little people see and know

Do you have ’digital’ friendships (e.g. other guys you play video games with)? Do you find that there are differences/similarities between ”digital and physical friendships”?.

Since we’re talking about facebook etc.. but do you for example play video games?

…I used to play when I was younger, now I don’t, I had the playstation now it’s just sitting there gathering dust in my room.

And instead of the friends you have with WA, with FB….you only hang out virtually ?

Yes…but on Facebook I only have people I know in person, I don’t reach out to people I don’t know…I prefer to have fewer friends whom I know in person, rather than many whom I don’t know…

You know there are many guys like you who mostly have friendships that are virtual, that are only through those with whom they play the playstation for example and maybe never see each other in person, live in different cities…. what do you think of this type of friendship…is it different from friendship made in person?

Of course…I find it quite creepy that you get to know people you don’t even see…maybe I’m old fashioned…26 years old, but I was brought up with sound principles…do you understand?

In your opinion, what skills and personality traits do professionals working with young people need in order to work better?

Motivating and knowing how to help the youngsters in any wrong steps they may take …. condoning. I’m joking, but, so far the operators are fine with me…but I can’t take it anymore at Castel Madama….

In my opinion the operators must be competent at work, set a good example… I don’t know because for me it’s already fine the way you’re going…

But we are not eternal… what should we teach those who will come after us?

… sound principles….

…I don’t know….I’m a little tired….

How can we ensure that new participants/activities can be involved without fear of stigmatisation?

…I didn’t understand the question….I don’t know…

[1] Cosa Nostra is the name of the one of the main organized crime in Sicily (Mafia).

[2] CIOFPS is a Vocational Educational Training providers.

[3] Balduina is a quartier of Rome pretty far away from the center

[4] Castel Madama is a small city near Rome