The city of Reggio Emilia has approximately 900 members of the Roma community (out of a total population of 170 000 inhabitants).
Do your intercultural/inclusion policies and/or strategy address the situation of the Roma community?
Yes, the department of welfare and intercultural policies of the municipality has a service that specifically deals with the inclusion of Roma community. This service has a strong connection with the local services and implements the regional, national and EU directives at a local level.
How does the city encourage the social and political participation of hard-to-reach groups, including Roma?
Mainly through a socio-educational intervention in the Roma community’s life. Special attention is dedicated to creating spaces of participation and interaction within the social context of the city.
What are the challenges your city faces in ensuring the intercultural inclusion of Roma?
1. School integration, counteracting early school leaving and promotion of educational success of Roma children (work in schools has been carried out over many years – see the answer below about good practices)
2. Housing: the Roma community living in Reggio Emilia (and in northern Italy in general) has the cultural specificity to live in mobile homes and micro-areas. In accordance with Emilia-Romagna regional law n. 11/2015, the municipality is promoting a cross-sectoral work to sustain decent, non-segregating and respectful of Roma culture, housing projects.
Does your city have any good practices for the inclusion and intercultural interaction of Roma?
The educators who work both in schools and within the Roma community play a crucial “bridge” and mediation role. For many years they have been helping these two contexts to communicate and share common representations. Over the past 8 years, the municipality has maintained a dialogue on this experience with Reggio Emilia University (Bachelor's Degrees in Primary Teacher Education and Education for Early Childhood Services and Socio-Pedagogical Context) ensuring that the knowledge gained is passed on to future teachers.