The European Project Efeseiis, Enabling the Flourishing and Evolution of Social Entrepreneurship for Innovative and Inclusive Societies, goes on with the selection of the third case study. On Saturday 8th August in Asti, ARCO’s (Action Research for CO-development, PIN S.c.r.l.) researchers met the staff of the Albergo Etico hotel to better understand the “Download albergo etico” project, its potential social impact and innovative strength. Antonio De Benedetto (project creator and owner of Tacabanda, restaurant in Asti’s city centre), Alex Toselli (chairman of the social cooperative running the hotel) and the employees Jessica, Alessandro and Niccolò were enthusiastic to explain us their experience within the hotel and how it is possible to make people with Down’s syndrome real protagonists of their working life.
Albergo etico: a travel inside and out yourself
The hotel was inaugurated in June 2015 and it is the realization of “Download Albergo Etico”, a project aimed at enabling young people with Down’s syndrome to be a resource for the labour market and to grown professionally but above all personally.
The idea of the Albergo Etico springs from Niccolò’s intership at the Tacabanda restaurant. Niccolò was a Down student of the catering institute Colline Astigiane and had the opportunity of ending his schooling with a few weeks stage at the Tacabanda restaurant. The chef Antonio De Benedetto was impressed by Niccolò’s willpower and determination and decided to commit himself to promote Down people’s autonomy and active role in the society through the working experience. The project was launched in 2006 and to date about 50-55 young people with Down’s syndrome have had the opportunity of working and learning, at the Tacabanda restaurant or at the hotel.
The hotel has 26 rooms, a restaurant, an historical basement which can host up to 50 people and a inner garden. It aims at being a facility for all, not only in terms of architectonical accessibility but also referring to the whole offer of services and experiences for the guests. It has a baby area and it works in partnership with local baby parkings; it offers touristic tours in the rolling hills of the Monferrato countryside and it organizes unusual activities for its guests and people with disabilities as the blind dinner experience or the grape harvest experience.
Quoting Alex Toselli, the chairman of the cooperative who runs the hotel,
“Albergo etico is like a home where you can learn how to take care of yourself, how to create relationships and live with other people, how to be on time and precise, it stands for a mean to acquire autonomy and independence”.
The staff includes 5 permanent members and 5-10 young people with disability who change according to the duration of their internship period. They are responsible for all the hotel services: the restaurant, the cleaning service and front/back office. Moreover they take up an educational path which not only enhances their working skills but above all it fosters their capability of living on their own.
The project creators aspire to make Albergo Etico not only a sustainable touristic business, but above all, a relevant education centre in the field of disable people’s education, education about disability and care managers’ education, at local and national level.