Coronavirus and the elderly: more than 1,000 over-65s helped in Bergamo and Milan

Two projects to help the elderly in Bergamo and Milan. Workers and volunteers providing home deliveries of groceries, meals, and medicines.

Cesvi is on the ground in Bergamo and Milan to help over-65s, who are amongst those most affected by the coronavirus emergency. Alongside the essential aid being provided for Bergamo hospitals, the organisation is also working in collaboration with institutions in Bergamo and Milan and in partnership with local associations to improve services for the elderly and to provide support to households which are vulnerable, isolated or in distress in order to prevent marginalisation.

In Bergamo, where the elderly constitute 25% of the population, Cesvi has launched a project in collaboration with the Assessorato alle Politiche sociali del Comune, Consorzi Sol.Co Città Aperta and RIBES aimed at helping over-65s by organising home deliveries of groceries, balanced meals, personal protective equipment and medicines, as well as guaranteeing social welfare services and transport for essential medical visits. To access this service, over-65s can call 342 009 9675 from 9:00 to 18:00 seven days a week.

Thanks to the work of health and social workers and 450 volunteers in the various districts of Bergamo, more than 1,000 requests for support have already been processed and around 922 elderly people have been assisted. The most frequent requests for help are the delivery of groceries or urgent medication, but there are also requests for the delivery of clean clothing to hospitalised patients, collection of medical examination reports, and transportation for medical visits or examinations. “It is very important for workers to ask the right questions to better understand the needs of the person on the other end of the phone”, explains Nicoletta Rossi, who works on the project. “Often, those who call us are upset and confused. Behind every person is a story and I feel that it is my responsibility and duty to listen to and understand it in order to find the correct solution. Requests for support are increasing, we can’t just leave those who need us.”

A project similar to the one in Bergamo is also taking place in Municipio VI in Milan, an area characterised by its high percentage of elderly people (22.4% of the existing population), which is often particularly vulnerable. The project, sponsored by Cesvi in collaboration with the Cooperativa Spazio Aperto Servizi, is called “Veniamo Noi da Te” (We Come To You) and uses a team of 15 social workers who have already assisted more than 200 over-65s, providing deliveries of basic necessities and carrying out errands, as well as psychological support through helplines for people in need and constant monitoring of the health and needs of the elderly thanks to highly specialised personnel. To get support, over-65s can call 345 7611 627 (Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 16:00).

We meet people who tend to be alone, who don’t see anyone and are afraid”, explains Marina Malgeri, who works on the Veniamo Noi da Te project. “I meet about 4-5 elderly people every day and often at first they don’t agree to meet me because fear takes over them. But most of the time I find the front door open and that they want to have a chat and share their fears and hopes to ease the burden of loneliness.”

Thanks to contributions made by individuals and private companies as well as the commitment of many people from the world of entertainment and sport, Cesvi has already raised and invested around 4 million euros for projects related to the COVID-19 emergency for Bergamo hospitals, elderly facilities and people over-65. However, there is much left to be done.

The health emergency is not over yet and the social one is only just beginning”, explains Cesvi president Gloria Zavatta. “Despite the huge accomplishments, this is not the time to let our guard down. The elderly, at this moment, are the social group that needs the most help, but soon we will also implement projects dedicated to the most vulnerable groups, primarily children. This is why it is important to continue donating.”

To support Cesvi’s work related to the coronavirus emergency, you can make a donation either:

– online on the Cesvi website: here.

– by bank transfer to the Cesvi bank account: Cesvi EMERGENZE:  IT92R0311111299000000000095

– by calling the freephone number 800 036 036 to make a credit card donation.

– by taking part in the dedicated campaign on gofundme: here.

Cover photo by Giovanni Diffidenti