Asylum seekers to clean Turin's streets for free

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Refugees in Turin will help clean up the city for free on Saturdays. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
10:37 CET+01:00
Asylum seekers will soon be sweeping up leaves, emptying bins and picking up litter on the streets and in the parks of the northern Italian city of Turin.

They will be put to work thanks to a scheme launched on Tuesday by the city's waste authority, Aimat, and city council.

The agreement will allow refugees waiting for their asylum claims to be processed – a process that can take over a year - to volunteer as workers for Aimat, where they will be allowed to work a six-hour cleaning shift each Saturday without pay.

The programme will see groups of 20 refugees hired at a time to perform 12 weeks of service.

They will work in mixed teams alongside full-time Aimat employees and will be deployed in different areas of the city.

While the refugees won't be paid, volunteering will provide them with the opportunity for integration, offer work experience and give them something to do.

Crucially, for Elide Tisi, Turin's deputy mayor, the programme is about giving something back.

“It's a useful scheme, but the most important thing is that it allows asylum seekers to give something in exchange for the support they are receiving in helping build a new life here,” Tisi said.

“It also highlights the work we are doing throughout the city to promote an attitude, not of welfarism, but of responsibility.”

While the work is unpaid, it is likely many asylum seekers will subscribe to it.

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In the past, grateful refugees have been the first to chip-in during cleanup operations in the wake of extreme weather events across Italy.

Last summer, after a tornado tore through Veneto, the region's refugees rushed to help citizens restore order. 

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