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European Youth Portal

Information and opportunities for young people across Europe.


Agorà Società Cooperativa Sociale onlus

EVS Accreditation Details
EVS accreditation type
EVS accreditation expiry date 16/01/2017
Location Rivarolo Mantovano (MANTOVA), Italy
Organisation topics
Inclusion topics
Social difficulties
Cultural differences
Economic difficulties
Geographical difficulties

EVS accreditation number


For more information about volunteering and European Voluntary Service in particular, visit the Voluntary Activities section of this website.

Please note, information about organisations and projects is only available in English.
Project Environment

The offices of Cooperativa Agorà are located in Rivarolo Mantovano, a small village in the heart of the Po Valley (Northern Italy) 30 Km off the town of Mantova. At 6 km you can find the village of Bozzolo, where the volunteers will live and that has a train station on the Milan-Mantova railway line. In about 1 hour’s time you can reach the Lake of Garda, the biggest Italian lake, very appreciated also by foreign tourists.
The centres for disabled people where volunteers will work are:
1 ) the Centro Diurno per Disabili "La cometa", in Bozzolo (Mantova), is a Day Centre for Disabled people for adults with severe mental and physical disabilities that affect their executive functions and individual autonomy. At this moment there are 24 users .
2 ) the Centro Socio Educativo "L'Aveare", in Casatico di Marcaria (Mantova ) is a Socio-Educational Centre that instead welcomes disabled users of age with mild to moderate mental and physical disabilities. Currently they are 17.
• We will arrange an on arrival meeting for welcoming and first acquaintance, then provide a presentation of local and Italian culture, as well as some pieces of information about the general activities carried out by Agorà. A language training will be offered at an Italian course for foreigners, according to the volunteers’ initial skills.
At each centre volunteers will be gradually given an introduction in order to better understand the new context, get to know staff and users, and carry out their tasks. We assure continuous assistance and availability in case of new demands on their part. To assess the project implementation they will have regular evaluation meetings with the coordinators of each centre, who will give them feedbacks about their progress and agree with them about the next goals to pursue. Moreover volunteers can talk about possible personal difficulties with their mentor, who will help them integrate into the local community, provide information about how to orient themselves, useful numbers, suggestions for meeting other young people, socializing, participating in excursions or other local events and entertainment, etc. Contacts with other EVS volunteers will be encouraged.
The reference person in charge of international mobility projects from the coordinating organisation will regularly supervise their service and schedule monthly meetings together with the rest of the coordinated EVS volunteers. These meetings are included in the working timetable and are considered essential for the success of the project.
According to our previous experience, we believe that volunteers can gain great benefits in terms of both personal and professional growth. Learning opportunities can be summarised such as follows:
- language and cultural skills: volunteers can learn or improve their knowledge of Italian and enrich their cultural awareness of the Italian life-style;
- cross competencies: they will develop self-awareness, self-esteem, team working, initiative, problem solving, etc.;
- intercultural experience and European awareness: they will expand these skills mainly thanks to a daily contact and association with other EVS volunteers coming from different countries;
- civic competencies: volunteers will become more sensitive and aware about the issues related to social inclusion of people with different needs and experience direct solidarity towards them;
- technical competencies: volunteers can learn different methodologies for developing the disabled users’ social skills and interaction techniques; therefore they will gain skills that will certainly be useful in any social or educational job in the future.
The reference person of coordinating activities at Alce Nero at Alce Nero will facilitate a reflection upon their learning path and competence assessment. She will help them get more aware of their progress and gained skills with a view to the drafting of the YouthPass.
• The volunteer’s role consists in working side by side with the staff of one of the 2 centres and help them pursue our final purposes: increasing and maintaining the users’ personal autonomies in view of their development and well-being, and supporting their families. Their contribution is particularly important for our cooperative because it allows us to compare various points of views with young people coming from different cultures.
Volunteers will always be a support to the staff, and when they propose and implement specific activities based on their experience and ability, they will not replace paid personnel, since they are not counted in the ratios of care staff to service users.
• The activities where EVS volunteers will be incorporated are related to the users’ development of personal autonomy and social integration and to the improvement of their cognitive, communicative, social and motor skills:
 At Bozzolo Centre:
Indoor activities:
• Educational activities;
• Art and crafts workshops;
• Computer Lab;
• Pet therapy;
• Housework activities;
• Physiotherapy and motor activity;
Outdoor activities:
• Gardening
• Swimming
• Theatre lab
• Sport activities
• Recreational outings;
• Trips and summer camps.
 Activities at Casatico Centre aim also at boosting the users’ job skills and facilitating their work integration
Indoor activities:
• Educational activities;
• Art and crafts workshops;
• Computer Lab;
• Occupational therapy;
• Costume jewellery workshop;
• Massage therapy.
Outdoor activities:
• Swimming;
• Therapeutic riding lessons;
• Theatre lab;
• Sport activities;
• Outings to in concerts, theatre plays, cinema;
• Trips and summer camps.
• Internships in public or private structures.
After selection, a more detailed programme will be customised according to volunteers’ educational background and skills, respecting their personal interests. After the first weeks they can suggest and implement some activities always backed by educators.
There are 35 working hours per week, including team meeting, supervision at Alce Nero and language training. They will have 2 days-off per week (usually Saturday and Sunday). In case of extraordinary activities, schedule and days-off can vary. Moreover they will have a holiday period counting 2 days per each month of work, which they can choose to spend all together or split in single different days. The details will be discussed in advance together with the person in charge of the project.
Agorà is open to host both male and female volunteers of age who prove:
- Motivation and interest towards the project and the issues linked to social integration of disabled people, sensitivity towards their demands and needs;
- Willingness to teamwork and exchange of views with the staff in order to provide an efficient educational intervention;
- Desire to get in the game, initiative, wish to be useful;
- Previous experience in the field of disability would also give us an interesting opportunity for sharing best practices
Selection will be made in cooperation with Alce Nero that will publish information about vacancies, project description, activity dates, volunteer’s profile and tasks, and practical details on the website www.youthnetworks.eu/. They will also email our vacancies to all sending organisations they collaborated with in the past and / or volunteers who will have recently contacted them. They will request the compilation of a specific application form (EVS form) that will allow us to get a more clear and precise idea about the candidates and their organisations. Finally we will take into account the professionalism and reliability shown by sending organisations when presenting volunteers or on the basis of past collaborations, as well as the support and training they ensure before departure.
We guarantee that the recruiting criteria will reflect the open orientation of EVS and the spirit of the Programme, ensuring that the selection process is open and transparent, avoids any discrimination based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or political opinion, and is only based on the above mentioned characteristics. After a first screening, interviews via Skype will be carried out.
Our organisation can host up to 2 volunteers at the same time even if not necessarily in the same centre.
• Volunteers can live and work in a reasonably safe and protected environment. Both the centres of activities and the flat are safe places in compliance with latest safety standards. The cooperative has a responsible person for health, safety and environment, in charge of preventing possible risks and of informing volunteers about security and safety procedures to follow and about emergency and evacuation.
• In the event of any problem we will use a problem solving approach and conflict management and mediation. Moreover we can count on a co-ordinating organisation ensuring further control and prevention thanks to the monthly group supervision meetings. The reference person of Alce Nero will also maintain regular contact with the coordinators of our centres and mentors, asking for updates on the project development and possibly exchange views about how to solve or manage arisen problems.

We do not expect to host underage volunteers.

Motivation and EVS experience

Cooperativa Agorà has hosted 18 European volunteers over the last 13 years. On the one hand their presence turned out to be extremely valuable for the services where they worked, that took advantage of their fresh, lively and enthusiastic contribution. On the other hand, volunteers appreciated the familiar atmosphere and the personal relationships established both with users, families and workers. We have decided to renew our Expression of Interest because our previous experiences have generally been successful.
Our main goal is providing a non-formal education experience to European young people, being convinced that the daily work with disabled people, even with the seriously handicapped ones, can be an important chance for growing up and better appreciate one’s limits and capabilities.
Our centres have the main objective of developing and broadening the occasions when our users can better express their potentials, feelings and emotions. We believe that young people, coming from different backgrounds and speaking a different language can stimulate our users and encourage them to activate alternative communicative channels, such as art, body expression or graphics.
Finally for our organisation, that is sometimes characterised by a certain stillness, the presence of young EVS volunteers can be a significant occasion of intercultural exchange and gives us the opportunity to reflect upon our daily work, and to become more open-minded.

Description of the organisation

Agorà is a non-profit organisation founded in 1992, inspired by the principles that are at the basis of the entire world cooperative movement, such as: solidarity, priority of people over money, building up of a society not founded on exploitation. Our name comes from the Greek word meaning “square, meeting place".
The main objective of our cooperative is to provide services and qualified human resources for the planning and implementation of projects in the field of education, training and assistance mainly in favour of people with disability, in cooperation with private and public bodies. The centrality of the human being is the guiding principle that drives our daily commitment.
We manage different Day Care Centres for disabled people, Socio-educational Centres, Services supporting autonomy and an Assisted living facilities Residence.
The type of disadvantage varies from severely mentally and physically handicapped persons to more autonomous users; for each of them we supply highly personalized interventions aimed at promoting and strengthening their autonomy and - when possible a job placement.
Different professionals compose our staff, such as social workers, pedagogues, nurses, physiotherapists, psychologists, teachers, care workers, youngsters carrying out their national civil service and EVS volunteers. Also some neurophysiologists, psychiatrists, physiatrists and social assistants collaborate with us.

Since 1997, Agora is part Sol.Co. Mantova, a consortium including 23 social cooperatives that operates in various areas: early childhood and family, children and youth, disability, marginalization, fragility, job placement.

Contact details
Please note, the selected organisation cooperates with a different EVS organisation to handle enquiries on its behalf.
Organisation name Alce Nero Soc Coop Soc Onlus
Street Via Imre Nagy, 18
Postal code 46100
Town/city Mantova
Country Italy
Email address cristina.ronconi@ilsegnoonlus.
Website www.cooperativa-agora.it
Telephone number 0039 0376 26 36 27
Fax number 00390376263531

Last update: 22/01/2014