L’Isola di Ariel
L’Isola di Ariel is an Italian social cooperative working with disadvantaged people like psychiatric patients and newly migrants, mainly asylum seekers (85% have not received a title of protection, yet and many of them have the appointment with the Refugee Commission in 2020). This being suspended in a sort of limbo generates lot of frustration. Professionals from L’Isola di Ariel manage the whole process from the first reception till the social and work inclusion. Their care methods are strongly influenced by antropological and anti-psychiatric approach. As an example they take the practice of setting the table with patience and care, as a symbol of the relationship with the other, from the long experience done in the social-health field (in an apartments of psychiatric groups the operators carefully prepares the table and waits patiently for the guests sit to share and learn to prepare the table for themselves and others). From the consideration that a laid table facilitates dialogue and relationship, this cooperative considers food as a powerful social mean to promote exchange, contamination among people with different cultures. Food may be also a catalyst for social and work inclusion. Newcomers need to be helped to build their self and this is easier if they are included as soon as possible in a social and working context. Qualifying migrants and asylum seekers in the field of cooking is a way to provide newcomers with self-empowerment and work empowerment. The sooner they are inserted in a working context, e.g. in traineeship or volunteering, the sooner they improve their language and soft skills. Three inns specialized in Mediterranean cuisine (”La Locanda Clandestina” – ”Clandestine Inn”) have been set up in Torino, where multi-cultural teams work and food is a contamination of Mediterranean and ethnic cuisine.
Another similar project carried out in Piemonte is “Food for Inclusion”, which is the result of a partnership between the University of Gastronomic Sciences and UNHCR. Courses are specifically dedicated to refugees and asylum seekers, based on cooking techniques, mixed-race kitchens, and gastronomic traditions from the world.