Social tourism on the Italian Ionian coast
07 Apr 2017
The Fratello sole (Brother Sun) social cooperative was created at the end of the 1970s following the introduction of the Basaglia reform which radically changed care services provided to people suffering from mental health issues and led to the closure of mental health institutes. It was at this point that the cooperative turned its attention to systems designed to provide recovery and assistance services to people suffering from mental health issues or addiction to alcohol, drugs or gambling.
People may well ask how this type of process is related to social tourism. Fratello Sole decided play a leading role in a process aimed not only at helping people to recover and to become rehabilitated, but also to help them to find employment and become independent, by helping some people to find employment within a large hotel structure on the Italian Ionian coast in Policoro, Basilicata, called l’Oasi d’Oriente Anyone who visits the site is immediately impressed by the beauty of the sea and the specialised vacation and recreation facilities: the tennis courts, riding school and all of the facilities one associates with a seaside resort.
But in order to truly appreciate the potential of the hotel and its facilities, one needs to take a look behind the scenes to gain an insight into the background of some of these people. You probably won’t realise whilst you are on vacation, but more than ten of the people who help to run “l’Oasi d’Oriente” are people who have experienced mental health and addiction issues and who have been given the opportunity to work in the hotel as the part of a rehabilitation and recovery process. So some of these people work in the hotel’s garden which provides the ingredients of the dishes served in the restaurant which are made up of fresh and truly local products, or they help to manage the riding school or the beach facilities.
As well as providing social tourism, “Oasi d’Oriente” also accords priority to accessibility and its facilities have been designed to accommodate the needs of holidaymakers who have mobility issues. Fratello Sole began its “Oasi d’Oriente” experience in 2014, and has already achieved incredible results, helping the workers to improve their quality of life and their recovery process, as well as undertaking efforts to reduce their drug based therapy by half and to ease their discomfort.