Walsall for All Visit to Sicily, Italy - Day 1
Day 1 – Visit to Moltivolti (Many Voices) in Palermo
In the beginning of March, Walsall for All took part in a joint learning exchange visit to Sicily to share best practice about integration. We started our tour in the Moltivolti (Many Voices) restaurant situated in the historic quarter of Palermo city, called Ballarò.
Moltivolti offers a shared co-working space to start-up and grassroots NGO (not for profit) organisations. There is also a bar and restaurant which employs migrants from different countries.
As soon as we walked into a colourful and attractive space we spotted a giant map entitled ‘my land is where I lay my feet’. Customers and visitors were encouraged to pin across a piece of string to indicate where they came from and show their journey. There were dozens of strings of many colours all leading to Palermo from different countries and continents.
The director and co-founder Claudio Arestivo introduced us to a group of migrants from Senegal. We spoke about the Walsall for All programme and gave examples from our own community projects. Handmade products from Kayon’s Mend-It project and Juraj’s examples of how new communities can learn from empowerment and advocacy examples of existing communities were very well received. We were also able to show the important role of public sector and housing organisations in putting in place structures for better social mixing, although Walsall too, is only at the beginning of this journey.
The young Senegalese migrants found Palermo a friendly city that had clearly experienced mixing of different cultures for centuries. However, they were clear that potential for misunderstanding between new and existing communities is never too far away and more should be done through education and ‘guardianship schemes’ that encourage citizens from the host community to directly mentor young people. Together we covered topics including legal aid, hate crime and private landlords. We also had a chance to sample some Sicilian traditional sweets such as cannoli and almond pastries prepared by the newly qualified chefs to a high professional standard.
As the evening was approaching it was great to see groups of locals chatting over a cup of coffee or ordering food as they would in any ordinary eatery. It seemed like this project has achieved a truly inclusive and socially mixed space without overemphasising its focus on any particular ethnicity or culture but rather on human interaction and creativity.