The Pubbliche Assistenze, Italian Associations that provided assistance to the general public, began to form in 1860. Inspired by solidaristic ideals and acting on the belief that people should help one another as brothers and sisters, they were free, secular and democratic associations of volunteers open to anyone’s participation.
Multiplying rapidly across most of the nation, the associations devoted their efforts to such activities as emergency medical rescue, disaster relief, support programs for the disadvantaged, and the popularization of civil rights and public health awareness.
Eventually developing a need for coordination at the national level, they joined together in 1904, in Spoleto, Italy, creating the Federazione Nazionale delle Società di Pubblica Assistenza e Pubblico Soccorso, which received official recognition as an “Institution Devoted to Public Good” in a 1911 King’s Decree. In 1989 the Federazione Nazionale took on its present name and became the Associazione Nazionale Pubbliche Assistenze.
Today, ANPAS is a national-level independent unitary movement that grounds its associative and institutional activities on democratic constitutional principles, community participation and volunteer work. Its aims include:
- the establishment of a more solidarity-oriented and just society, a goal to be achieved by fostering the protection and recognition of human rights, as well as through any activities based on the human ability to help and assist others;
- the representation of its member associations at the local, national and international level;
- the protection, support, promotion and coordination of organized volunteer work, throughout the nation and abroad;
- the development of a solidarity-oriented culture and the protection of civil rights;
- the support and promotion of children’s rights, of humanitarian aid and inter-country adoption.
All our member associations provide unconditional assistance to anyone in need, and are generally open to anyone wishing to participate in their activities.
Present in 19 of the nation’s regions, ANPAS currently represents 869 associations, with their 222 Sections. Involved daily in services ranging from emergency medical care and transportation to social programs, healthcare programs, and disaster prevention and relief, ANPAS 90.000 volunteers and 400.000 members make up the largest volunteer association in Italy, an active subject and point of reference for all of those who work towards the goal of a more progressive and caring society.
Formerly authorized to manage the placement of conscientious objectors by special arrangement with the State Agency for Civil Service, ANPAS also obtained accreditation as a First Class Civil Service agency. Starting in 2001, ANPAS began assisting associations wishing to apply for the national civil service projects provided for in Act 64/2001, supporting them in the presentation of numerous project proposals. Today, almost 750 member associations have requested accreditation to develop national civil service programs and place up to 1,000 civil service volunteers in various areas, including: medical care and transportation, social services for children, elderly and disabled people, disaster relief, environmental protection, international aid programs, and promotion of social solidarity.
ANPAS also figures among the agencies authorized by the Italian Central Authority for intercountry adoptions (Presidency of the Council of Ministers - Intercountry Adoptions Commission) to serve adoptive families residing in Italy and conduct intercountry adoption programs with Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Armenia, Mauritius, Kenya, Taiwan, Senegal, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mali and The Gambia. In these same countries and others, ANPAS carries out numerous initiatives and development projects, supporting children and poverty-afflicted populations. Our initiatives in these countries include:
child sponsorship programs;
child neglect prevention programs for vulnerable families;
promotion of domestic adoption and foster care programs;
establishment of foster homes;
awareness raising and training of personnel in existing orphanages;
establishment of day centers for children and disadvantaged families;
rehabilitation of disaster-damaged homes and schools;
sustainable development programs supporting informal micro-credit and family-run enterprises;
adult literacy programs;
diffusion of materials on children’s and women’s rights.
ANPAS is a member of:
The National Observatory for Volunteering
Forum Permanente Terzo Settore
National Volunteering Council of the Forum Permanente Terzo Settore
C.N.E.S.C. (National Conference of Civil Service Agencies)
National Center for Volunteering
I.C.S. (Italian Solidarity Consortium)
The European Union’s Commission for the Development of NGOs
Associazione Nazionale Libera
869 Member Associations
222 Public Assistance Sections
1,000 Civil Service Volunteers (currently serving)