The Social Promotion Association “Libera Mente” has an important mission in the social field, providing multidimensional services and promoting volunteering as a practice of active citizenship. Since its establishment in 2002, it has worked to create and develop services in the social sector, with particular attention to reception and comprehensive care of users.

Over the years, the association has expanded its scope, including projects that go beyond the reception of migrants. These projects aim at general well-being, personal care, and environmental stewardship. Among these, the “Social Seedbed” is dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of ancient seed culture, promoting moments of socialization and sharing through events and days dedicated to sowing. On the other hand, the “Contact Silence Retreats” project offers a path of personal growth through meditation and contact improvisation.

The reception of mainly foreign young people remains the core of our work with the services of the “Family-sized Community with Socio-educational Function ‘Libera Mente Giovani’,” dedicated to young people between 16 and 18 years old, and the Apartment for the Autonomy of Young People and Adolescents “The House of Youth.” These projects aim to provide a safe and stimulating environment for the identity and social development of our young users.

The promotion of volunteering remains a priority for the association, which constantly works to integrate the contribution of volunteers with that of internal and external professionals, thus creating a solid network in the territory and consolidating the practice of active citizenship.

Innovations and projects 

In 2025, there will be a reconfiguration of existing projects related to socio-educational work aimed at young people and adolescents, adapting to the practices developed over the years and the specific needs of the individuals served. There is a clear shift towards accommodating young MSNA (unaccompanied foreign minors) and adolescents from the civilian circuit. The constitutive statute of the Association will also be updated to highlight the various projects developed over time and solidified.

The “Semenzaio Sociale” project will remain the primary channel for involving voluntary forces in our activities and for strengthening and expanding the network of contacts and participation in social events, creating opportunities for interaction with the Arezzo territory.

Changes are also expected for the “Contact silence retreats” project, with the hypothesis of replacing the summer retreat with a “contact silence camp,” providing more space for deep sharing dedicated to our retreat students. Efforts will be made to develop interesting collaborations for creating artistic events that intertwine graphic-pictorial art with improvisational dance experiences, aiming to spread and promote contact improvisation.

We will continue to enhance our network of volunteers, the lifeblood of our association, through social events and new project proposals.

Consolidation of projects and new creative impulses

In 2024, the consolidation of projects initiated in recent times is foreseen, especially the “House of Youth” Apartment for Young People and Adolescents, and energies and voluntary resources are being invested in restyling the structure, with particular attention to outdoor spaces, garden, and wood-fired oven.

New life will be given to the “Social Seedbed” project with the creation of a synergistic vegetable garden and the planning of social days, aimed at reconciling the interest in organic horticulture and agri-food biodiversity with the desire to create informal networks of contact between multicultural worlds.

One of the primary objectives of our work remains to create the best conditions for our young foreign users to come into contact with personal and relational resources suitable for navigating social contexts in the adopted territory with confidence, also creating opportunities for social inclusion.

Expansion and Evaluation of Projects

For 2023, the launch of the new residential reality of the independent living apartment group for young adults beyond the age of majority is planned, with structural adaptation works in preparation for the accreditation of the new project and the reception of the new target audience.

We anticipate the full resumption of activities related to the “Semenzaio Sociale” project and the expansion and consolidation of ongoing projects to keep our association’s reality alive and active.

In 2023, the “Libera Mente” Association plans to launch a new residential project called the Independent Living Apartment Group, aimed at young adults who have surpassed the age of majority. This involves structural adaptation works to ensure the comfort and safety of guests, as well as the accreditation process of the new project with the relevant authorities. The goal is to provide a safe and supportive environment for young adults who are undergoing the transition to independence.

Furthermore, expansion and consolidation of existing projects are planned to keep the association’s reality alive and active. This may involve introducing new initiatives within existing projects, enhancing human and material resources available, as well as developing partnerships and collaborations with other organizations or institutions to broaden the impact of the association’s activities.

In summary, 2023 will be a year of expansion and consolidation for the “Libera Mente” Association, with the launch of new projects, the strengthening of existing activities, and the constant commitment to keep its social mission alive.

Vitality in the Projects

Throughout 2022, the “Libera Mente” Association embarked on a series of new paths and consolidated its existing activities.

The project of the “Community for Minors” took off successfully, thanks to the enthusiasm and commitment of the new group of young users. These young people have proven to be motivated and active in pursuing their life projects within the community, thereby contributing to creating a stable and cohesive working group. The team has developed protocols and procedures to effectively manage even the most complex situations.

Furthermore, the idea of starting a new project has been consolidated: an independent living apartment group aimed at young people between 18 and 21 years old. This project aims to ensure continuity in the paths of young people inserted into the community path beyond the age of majority. Planning for the spaces and drafting the project for the accreditation of the new independent living apartment has begun, scheduled for 2023.

Although the “Semenzaio Sociale” project has progressed slowly, a new organization has been planned in managing social activities and initiatives, directing the project towards its primary mission: keeping the network of volunteers active and operational in connection with the Arezzo territory.

The “Contact Silence Retreats” has continued to offer a space for individual well-being and relationships, with participants from all over the world, expanding its positive resonance among participants.

Although the closure of the migrant reception project is anticipated within the year, the service is still fully operational to respond to the constant migratory flow from Africa and the Balkan route, as well as the new flow caused by the war in Ukraine. However, despite the new tender for the management of the reception service not changing the conditions that led to the decision to close the project, the Association has confirmed its stance, ensuring the safeguarding of guests, workers, and the association itself.

Project initiation and stabilization of existing projects

2020 was a challenging year for all of us, with a significant slowdown in our project planning due to the pandemic that halted everything. However, at the beginning of 2021, our efforts finally began to translate into tangible reality.

The project “Family-sized Community with Socio-Educational Function for minors aged 16-21” was authorized and accredited for operation by the Municipality of Arezzo. Over the course of the year, the project was launched and found stability thanks to the commitment and cohesion of the working staff, which further solidified.

The “Semenzaio Sociale” project is awaiting the end of the pandemic to fully express its aggregating value and sensitivity to environmental and relational care. As soon as it is possible, we will plan events at our association and resume the free distribution of seedlings.

The “Contact Silence” project was planned and active throughout 2021, following the course of the pandemic and strictly adhering to regulations regarding contact sports. The scheduled retreats were successfully carried out, receiving positive feedback from participants.

Finally, the migrant reception project continued with a steady pace, with some new arrivals and many departures following the completion of the journey for several users. The closure of the project is expected by 2022, and we are appropriately accompanying this conclusion.

  • Redefinition of volunteering projects

    The association was rebuilt 5 years ago on the basis of a project that is now running out. The capital of respectability and relationships accumulated today is reinvested towards something that allows us to continue the path, which is both human and professional. The reform of the third sector calls us to reflect intensively on the tools we have available and to make important personal and professional choices. The minor project takes shape with the usual lay approach, flanked by projects of a more ecological connotation and those instead focused on personal growth. The small free space reserved for the teaching of yoga, evolves towards the promotion of the CONTACT IMPROVVISATION, through the summer seminar organized by us. Let us imagine a clear choice of field, towards the promotion of personal well-being, of environmentally friendly lifestyles, of human relations in the name of respect and the peaceful resolution of disputes. Our idea of ​​a new humanism.

Development of associative life

The majority out of the political elections of spring 2019, has radicalized an approach to immigration issues already present in the public debate: the criminalization of NGOs engaged in rescue operations, the formalization of agreements with interlocutors of dubious moral integrity in Libya, the consideration miserable of the whole reception system. The new majority has racist and intolerant connotations and has made choices that go in the direction of: 1) making the arrival of migrants very difficult 2) making their integration impossible. Our role as part of the system, rendered irrelevant, penalized economically and on a practical, daily basis. Speaking of integration and enhancement of migrants, it has become extremely unpopular and decidedly inappropriate.

  • Evaluation of the possibilities for service diversification

First the downturn in arrivals – experienced by us with great frustration because we thought that the high position in the ranking would have protected us -, then the renegotiation of the contract – which cut the entire services to the person – has given an acceleration to our projects and their remodeling: we do not know if and how we can continue to work with migrants, but we certainly have to think about designing something else.

  • Increased ecological and ethical activity

Thanks to the work done with voluntary projects and the ancient sensitivity towards social agriculture projects, a reflection begins on the protection of traditional crops and the conservation of the ecosystem. We focus on ecological walks and on the free reproduction of horticultural crops according to an ecological, ethical and social project.

  • Development of a minors’ reception project from the penalty

Our attention goes in the direction of services for minors, an area in which some of us have had not always positive experience. We turn to the users of the juvenile court, because our region suffers from a shortage of beds

  • Define identity association type association of migrants

Free Mind was – as an associative structure – placed at the service of the project and by extension, of the migrants received. At the beginning the application for registration was instrumental to participation in volunteer projects, but through this simple step, together with the work done to build cohabitation, we were able to start a discussion on mutual aid and the possibility of participating in community life. For most of our guests the associative form represents something alien, compared to their own life experience, but we think that the bonds we have built can produce good results even after the reception experience is over. We constantly have proof of this, with requests for help and / or support, but also with frequent visits by the exiles to Ponte Buriano.

  • Further develop the migrant reception project

The hospitality project, which consists of four apartments, the acquisition of the second floor of Ponte Buriano, the numerous and close-knit staff, characterize an effective and efficient work. We have a well-oiled reputation and mechanism, which can now reason to standardize procedures and future developments.

  • Further develop community life and volunteering

We have always interpreted the contribution of volunteering as “accessory” and “integrative” of professional work and this has allowed us to make well-considered projects, without room for improvisation and indeed much space for the growth of individual volunteers.

  • Maximum professionalization in a personalistic and anti-racist way of welcoming and integrating migrants.

The professional and not fragmented approach of our reception is recognized as useful and adequate to face particular cases: our intervention is systematically requested for migrants in difficulty, subjected to disciplinary measures or explicitly vulnerable. The professional figure of the nurse is integrated into the staff. The non-ideological or paternalistic but rather person-centered inspiration allows the staff to grow harmoniously and effectively manage the risk of emotional overload.

  • Development of associative vitality and volunteering projects complementary to reception.

The vitality of the project attracts the interest of many people we meet: the connections with the realities of the territory increase and the activities multiply. Another apartment is opened.

  • Balanced, sustainable and transparent development of the association.

The most demanding phase of the relaunch of the association can be considered concluded. Libera Mente has a clear identity, has economic resources and a horizon to move towards.

Develop and consolidate the migrant reception project

The following year served to consolidate the project, with the formalization of labor relations and the articulation of the first developments. It immediately seemed clear to us that the structure of Ponte Buriano was to be a first step in a more complex path, where people but also the educational staff themselves, experienced different and progressive degrees of autonomy. This dynamism of the project has allowed us to maintain lively relations and work.

  • Create volunteer projects to involve migrants in socially useful activities

Voluntary activities besides satisfying a certain political piucchealtro pressure to carry out socially useful activities, we have interpreted as the other: first of all make something we liked, that had meaning for those who realized; also use another space to cultivate the relationship, to be with the guest.

Revitalize the association

At the end of 2015, the Libera Mente APS association was a head without a body, the collaboration with the CSA that had favored its birth no longer existed. From the initiative of Alessandro Papalini and Roberto Barelli to build a project around the reception of migrants, a path of renewal has begun, both at the top and at the “dispersed” social body.

Renovate the Ponte Buriano apartment to make it a welcome center

The building located in Ponte Buriano had a number of positive characteristics: it was large and spacious, a little isolated from the context, with a series of interesting “accessories” and finally belonged to reasonable friends who would have allowed us to restructure it to “discount rent” . At the beginning of 2015, the house had been vacant for years, but with the fixtures and fixtures in place, so it was necessary to clean it, whiten it, restore some rooms and furnish it; all work done “economically” and with the impromptu help of some friends.

  • Participate in the call for migrant reception

Participation in the call for applications required another impressive job: we knew little or nothing about calls, we knew little or nothing about managing a ‘complex business. A neo-president in a state of grace, constantly focused and decisive, and a vocation for professionalism and transparency weighed heavily. The fourth place in the ranking has “certified” the goodness of the efforts made. In June 2015, the activity became operational with the arrival of the first guests.