Launched in 2022 by INTERSOS in partnership with UNHCR, the VOC – Volunteers in Communities program has involved more than 100 volunteers in information, counselling, and advocacy activities and supported more than 1,500 refugees, migrants, asylum seekers, and stateless persons.


Volunteers in communities are refugees, migrants, asylum seekers and stateless persons who play the role of bridge between their communities of origin and the society that welcomes them, especially with the world of services, institutions and integration paths present in the territory.

From 2022 to 2024, almost 100 Volunteers, from more than 20 different countries and active in 7 Italian regions, took part in the program implemented by INTERSOS in partnership with UNHCR and created with precisely this objective: to strengthen the active participation of refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons, recognizing their intrinsic capacities as agents of change and representatives of their groups.

Launched in 2022 in response to the arrival of Ukrainian refugees in Italy, the program was built on the determination and resources of a community that spontaneously organized itself to support its members and internally welcome newcomers, activating pathways of welcome and supporting those fleeing the conflict from the moment of their arrival in Italy.

After an initial phase focused on the Ukrainian community, the program expanded to include several other groups of different nationalities, with the aim of recognizing and enhancing the specific resources of each in identifying needs and proposing new solutions to the many challenges of integration in Italy.

In fact, the volunteers represent a universe of professionalism – they are cultural mediators, students, lawyers, psychologists, translators, workers, managers, teachers, journalists, musicians, social workers, and restaurateurs – and come from different parts of the world: Afghanistan, Argentina, Benin, Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guinea, Gambia, Iran, Lebanon, Mauritania, Mexico, Peru, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Ukraine, and Venezuela.

Thanks to their expertise, they inform their communities about the world of services and opportunities in the area, helping to organize information sessions on issues such as access to the health system, the labor market and the school system. They then meet regularly with them to identify their needs, difficulties and resources, and respond to their need for representation by bringing their voices into discussion contexts with institutions, municipalities, Italian universities, third sector entities and non-governmental organizations. In Turin, for example, the Volunteers participated in consultation meetings with the Ufficio Minori Stranieri (Office for Foreign Minors) and the Foreigners Service Table; in Milan, they are involved in training and information sessions with the UASI (Ukraine Support and Information) legal clinic, run by the Bocconi Lab for European Studies, which involves students, researchers and teachers. In Rome, on the other hand, they take part in the meetings of the Municipal XIV and the Table of Coexistence.

In 2023, VOC – Volunteers in Communities has helped more than 1,500 people in Italy to access services and accompanied more than 500 migrants, refugees and asylum seekers on their path to integration, organizing 60 information sessions and 35 focus group discussions.

Currently, the initiative involves more than 40 volunteers in the cities of Turin (where they are directly coordinated by the refugee association Mosaico), Milan, Bologna, Rome and Naples, who are following a training program on protection, access to services, communication and advocacy in order to strengthen their skills and capacities.