“Wholesale markets guaranteed a wide range of products despite the difficulties related to transportation and logistics”

Centro Agroalimentare Roma Ensured that all Romans had access to nutritious food during the lockdown Italy, Rome

The onset of COVID-19 took a toll on most things we once took for granted. Grocery shopping was perhaps the most blatant example: How do you get your daily food when you’re on lockdown and most shops are closed? In Roma, citizens could count on Centro Agroalimentare Roma. “We witnessed an increase in the demand for fruit and vegetables,” a consortium members says. “Our neighbourhood markets never stopped working and we could provide basic, regional commodities to those who stayed at home.” The consortium even took a step further. Seeing how part of the population lacked the resources to buy enough nutritious food, they partnered with local groups and services to donate as many as 2 million portions of food in March and April 2020 alone. Their efforts were coordinated online under the hashtag #TogetherWeWillDoThis and were recently highlighted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

“We've always been committed to the fight against social inequality”

Team "QuestaèRoma'' Rolled out a video campaign with instructions on how to comply with anti COVID-19 measures Italy, Rome

In the early days of the Italian lockdown, confusion often prevailed. Government instructions weren’t always clear and changed so quickly that some struggled to adapt. Cultural and Sport Association QuestaèRoma (This is Rome) was quick to realise this and decided to support the people who needed clearer explanations. “Our association has always been committed to the fight against social inequality. We organise campaigns, cultural and musical events, putting so-called ‘social minorities’ in the spotlight. When we saw what was happening with COVID-19, we decided it was essential to produce usable and understandable information for all,” the team explains. QuestaèRoma ended up producing a video campaign in Italian detailing the rules to follow. Thanks to help from volunteers, the video was translated in several languages including Wolof, English, French, Albanian and Romanian. It received much positive feedback across Italy.

“How do you live four months with 735 euros?”

Giuliano Lived for four months without salary and decided to dedicate part of his free time to voluntary work Italy, Reggio Emilia

What would you do if you had an 11-year old daughter and were without income for four months? While most of us would be tempted to panic, Giuliano decided he’d take some time to reconnect with nature and do some volunteer work, distributing masks to people in his neighbourhood. “I work for a company manufacturing conveyor belts but was told to go home on 3 March. The company had to close down and dismiss employees. I had to wait until the beginning of May to get unemployment money: 735 euros before tax, and nothing ever since. These have been very difficult times,” he recalls. The EU has been working to alleviate such situations. Efforts include EUR 100 billion to keep people in jobs; food and basic material assistance for the most deprived; and EUR 37 billion of structural funds to support healthcare, businesses and workers.

“Donating books is a great way to support families in need while they deal with containment”

Giuseppina and Gianfranca Distribute books to families strongly affected by the Covid-19 crisis Italy, Milan

In Japanese, “kifubon” means donating books. It’s also the name of an international project that reached Spain, France, Germany and Italy in 2019 and books are regularly donated to charities through this unique initiative. In the context of the Covid-19 outbreak, Peace of the World ambassador Prem Rawat donated copies of his book “Splitting the Arrow: Understanding the business of Life” to the project. The book is famous for the influence it had on the “Pledge to Peace” declaration, co-written with the President of the European Parliament. “This book was chosen for the positive messages it conveys with its short and funny stories. It’s about inclusion, inner strength, the possibility of making good choices and the peace that resides within each of us”, Giuseppina explains. The books were distributed to parents and children who found themselves in a difficult situation due to Covid-19.

“Now I know what a strong and united Europe really means”

Joe Worked side by side with Italian specialists to save coronavirus patients' lives Italy, Lecco

The EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre helped send a medical team from Romania to support healthcare workers in Italy. Led by Major Joe Stroescu, they worked for over two weeks side by side with Italian specialists to save coronavirus patients' lives. The team of 3 nurses and 11 doctors was comprised of lung specialists, anaesthetists, and experts in intensive care and emergency medicine. They all underwent three days of training on the Italian healthcare system before putting on their protective gear and treating patients in the towns of Lecco and Merate in Lombardy. As Joe puts it, “It doesn't matter where we come from. In life it matters what we do, and in these difficult moments it is important to show solidarity and help each other, because only together can we win this battle. This act of solidarity has saved lives and shows the true nature of the EU family.” We couldn't agree more.

“We’re doing our best to help local communities and health services”

Antonio and Francesco Make respiratory valves with a 3D printer Italy, Varese

At the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Italy, Antonio Piscia usually engineers specialist parts for scientists. With labs closed due to the lockdown, he has turned his hand to making respiratory valves with a 3D printer. His colleague, Francesco Scaffidi-Argentina, delivered the first 22 of these life-saving valves to a hospital in Varese on 15 April. “JRC researchers are working on many aspects linked to the Covid-19 crisis. For our part at the JRC’s technical and support services, we are happy to be able to help the local communities and health services in any way possible,” says Antonio. Staff in other JRC sites in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands are also donating medical equipment and other supplies to their local communities and health services. “We want to show the local communities and our fellow European citizens that we care and that we will support them any way we can,” affirms JRC Site Manager Rien Stroosnijder.

“We adapted our business to keep working”

Maurizio Converted his company's manufacturing lines to produce masks and donated them to the municipality Italy, Reggio Emilia

Europe’s recent need for masks and other protective equipment required industrial flexibility to a level never seen before Covid-19. “The logistics sector had to redefine its organizational models, which is where we excel. We are flexible, benefit from the digitalisation of the supply chain, and have the managerial capability to meet present needs while looking towards the future”, says Maurizio. His company immediately converted some of its production lines dedicated to clothing, modifying them to produce masks. “We participated in a call for regional funding but are still waiting for the decision. Meanwhile, we have donated 3500 masks to the municipality”, Maurizio explains.

“Being present and helping is our response to the emergency”

Francesco, Chiara and Rosario Shop and deliver groceries to population groups most at risk Italy, Certaldo

If you live in the city of Certaldo in Italy, chances are you have seen groups of Italian Red Cross volunteers going up and down the aisles of your local grocery store. This is all part of the “Pronto Spesa” initiative, which consists of delivering necessary commodities to those in need. Francesco, Chiara, and Rosario are amongt these volunteers. Following the Ministry of Health’s invitation to the population not to go to crowded spaces, they decided it was time for them to lend a helping hand. “Many families in our municipality saw the need to contact the Committee of the Italian Red Cross of Certaldo,” they explain. “It was only natural for us to come forward.” Red Cross volunteers, in uniform and with the appropriate personal protective equipment, are organised in teams. They receive daily requests from citizens and mobilise to help the most fragile groups: the elderly, the disabled and the immunodepressed.

“Supporting and assisting those who need it most is essential”

Marco Shows how, in times of crisis, every gesture counts Italy, Rome

“Il tempo della gentilezza” is a country-wide initiative organised by the Italian Red Cross. Hundreds of volunteers stand together with those most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis by providing them with essential services, such as the delivery of groceries and medicines. Marco D’Amico volunteers for the initiative in Rome. “The photo was taken during the preparation of the deliveries,” he explains “I strongly believe that supporting and assisting those who need it most during the COVID-19 outbreak is essential.” The Italian Red Cross believes its current action must be smart, safe, and kind. It stresses that every gesture counts, from notes of encouragement on the windshield of an ambulance, to the donation of masks and protective glass, or even breakfast or dinner deliveries to hospital staff. An ambitious EU long-term budget will be crucial to rebooting the economy and creating a green, digital, and resilient Europe after Covid-19. Find out how http://icountoneurope.eu/.

“Hunger does not go into quarantine”

Mircea Promotes the recovery of food surpluses Italy, Pescara

Banco Alimentare Onlus Foundation assists 1,500,000 people in need in Italy, through the distribution of food surpluses to 7,500 charitable organisations. In the past two months, with the COVID-19 pandemic, requests for food aid have grown by 40% in Italy, with some regions seeing an increase of over 60%. The Food Bank has remained open, aware of the essential service it carries out for the country. So far in 2020, 30 000 tons of food have been distributed by the Banco Alimentare Onlus Foundation, with European aid fundamental to its operations. Throughout their deliveries, their team stays outside, keeps people at a distance from each other, and reassures them that everyone will have something to eat. "We were hit by what we can call a tsunami of solidarity", explains President Giovanni Bruno. "With the outbreak, the strength of volunteering has increased. I'm overwhelmed by it. At this moment it is our duty to do more, rather than less" confirms Maria, a volunteer from Salerno.

“Realizing that we were dealing with the first indigenous case helped us prevent further contagion”

Annalisa Discovered Covid's first patient in Europe Italy, Codogno

On 20 February, doctor Annalisa Malara took a decision that changed everything, saving the life of Mattia Maestri, and many more people throughout Europe. Mattia, a 37-year-old researcher, was Europe's first indigenous case of COVID-19. Mattia was young and athletic, but very seriously unwell. When all his other tests came back negative, Annalisa decided to test him for coronavirus. Looking back, she realises that sounding the alarm immediately allowed containment and prevention measures to be put in place in Italy and in other European countries. International solidarity and scientific collaboration, she believes, are the keys to dealing with the pandemic. "I hope my story will help make it clear that regardless of where you work and who you are, you can make a difference if you do your job with integrity and passion. And I hope that Europe will become more united and stronger, because emergencies like this can only be successfully tackled if faced as a single great nation."

“It's crucial to counter disinformation in a simple, fun way”

Sarah Supports free and independent media Italy, Rome

This is a historic moment for Europe, when communicating is hard and finding correct information even harder. When the pandemic first occurred, Sarah decided to launch “Coffee al Fly”, a free podcast series covering topics as diverse as living with social distancing, financial education, and European sovereignty. Each week she discusses the latest news with colleagues and friends, trying to find and understand the correct version of events. In doing so, she helps to educate people that want to learn more about our governments’ choices in relation to the COVID-19 crisis. Members of the European Parliament have called for a European information source to ensure that everyone has access to fact based news, and have asked social media companies to tackle disinformation and hate speech. Through Sarah's podcast, she reassures her audience and corrects misconceptions, with the aim of fostering peace and solidarity during this exceptional time.

“We shifted production from clothes to masks. It was the right thing to do”

Anna Employs vulnerable women in the production of reusable masks Italy, Verona

Anna is the founder and CEO of Quid Impresa Sociale, a project that provides opportunities to vulnerable women in the creation of items made from recycled materials. This April they started the production of masks made out of a special no-drip and antimicrobial fabric, washable up to 15 times. To switch production to this kind of mask they applied to the Italian National Health Institute and received the necessary certification to distribute them as Category I medical devices. Working with members of Legacoop, Italy's trade association of cooperatives, it is one of many joint efforts to fight the spread of the virus.

“The future is in our hands, let's not keep them in our pockets”

Isinnova 3D prints, masks, respiratory valves, and medical supplies Italy, Brescia

Responding to a shortage of respiratory valves at their local hospital, the Isinnova design lab developed a prototype and used 3D printers to produce new ones in just a few hours. The design was made open source, allowing anyone with a 3D printer to create and deliver valves to hospitals. Working with doctors, they have also transformed snorkelling masks into medical masks to help meet the huge demand from hospital staff for personal protective equipment.

“Make it happen”

Massimo Produces face masks with his new team of 450 people Italy, Bologna

Massimo, through his firm GVS, has been playing a crucial role in the battle against COVID-19. The organisation has been constantly working to increase the production of necessary masks, expanding their production facilities to focus on PPE and medical filtration products specifically for the Italian market. GVS is also collaborating with the University of Bologna, testing face masks for medical staff, researching cleaning processes, and launching a digital education project. The European Union is working to support the production of such medical equipment. All Member States will now benefit from the first ever rescEU stockpile of medical equipment, including protective masks, as part of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

“Buy a meal today, to make sure restaurants are here tomorrow”

Global Shapers Supports restaurants and coffee shops Italy, Rome

To fight the spread of COVID-19, many businesses have been required to close. It has led many restaurants and coffee shops to confront a difficult economic reality. In Italy, the Global Shapers Rome hub has launched the platform Save One Seat to allow people to purchase dining bonds today from their favourite restaurants and use them when this emergency is over. This permits businesses to receive immediate funds to cover their current costs, while users can look forward to planning their dinners with friends and family. The EU is also supporting business facing similar struggles. For example, the European Investment Fund, has mobilised €8 billion to help at least 100,000 companies affected by the outbreak.

“I help hospitals access the most advanced tools to detect COVID-19”

Claudio Trains healthcare professionals in the application of molecular diagnostics techniques Italy, Rome

In this serious and rapidly evolving situation, we need Europeans to come together, in order to defeat the spread of COVID-19. Claudio is using his innovative skills in molecular biology and scientific consulting to play his part. As a member of Servizi Diagnostici, he specialises in the distribution of diagnostic products for laboratories, helping to provide solutions for healthcare providers all over Europe. To help facilitate collaboration between member states, the EU Cross-border Health Threat Decision allows joint procurement of medical countermeasures to ensure access to fairly priced and distributed medical supplies, no matter where in Europe you live.

“I'm seeking a solution for me, my friends, and all of Europe”

Giuseppe Creating life saving medical treatments through innovative research Italy, Ancona

Originally from Fragagnano, Giuseppe Bungaro has been named as one of 100 Eccellenze Italiane after winning the European Union Contest for Young Scientists. By taking advantage of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, Giuseppe has found a way to avoid excessive respiratory scarring and to treat the symptoms of pneumonia caused by SARS-CoV-2. The EU is committed to boosting such research, and to helping researchers to find a vaccine quickly through existing research funding. For example, A proposed €47.5 million in Horizon 2020 programme funding for 17 shortlisted research projects could help to advance the understanding of COVID-19 and therefore improve clinical management.

“Doctors facing this crisis need devices that are easy to use, fully automated and equipped with artificial intelligence”

Filippo and Marco Developing new technology that helps COVID-19 patients to breathe Italy, Parma

COVID-19 can cause shortness of breath for some and severe breathing difficulties for others, which can be very scary. To cope with the shortage of automatic ventilators available for such patients, Marco and Filippo, through their startup Omnidermal, have created the Artificial Breathing Unit (ABU). Their combined experience in the development of medical devices and pharmaceutical automation is hoped to help COVID-19 patients, and those in rehabilitation, to breathe stronger. The Innovative Medicines Initiative, Europe's partnership for health, is additionally accelerating the medicines development process, generating new scientific insights, and developing resources for open use by the research community. Furthermore, some of these projects are already delivering direct benefits to patients.

“We're stronger together”

Anpas Emilia Romagna Volunteers prepare for another day with the Emergency Medical Service Italy, Parma

All across Europe, community organisations are coming together to show solidarity during these difficult times. Anpas Emilia Romagna is one such group, providing emergency medical services to some of Italy's most affected regions. To help them in their mission, RescEU - part of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism - ensures countries can quickly obtain the medical equipment they need. This means all Member States now have access to the first ever rescEU stockpile of medical equipment, such as ventilators and protective masks, under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

“Yes, I'm afraid. We all are. But it's the kind of fear that pushes us to stay and fight”

Claudia Works as a doctor at the COVID Emergency department of a Milanese hospital Italy, Milan

Claudia is a gastroenterologist who is currently on duty at the COVID Emergency department of Milanese hospital Fatebenefratelli Sacco. Among the four COVID departments the hospital has created, hers is the one dedicated to the most compromised and least stable. The majority of her 40 patients are on respirators, with a high percentage eventually transferred to intensive care units. Like many doctors across Europe, Claudia adapted her job to the current needs. To enable medical staff to do this challenging work, the EU has dedicated extra funds to hospitals across Europe and ramped up production of medical devices by issuing calls for production of equipment and negotiating new supplies.

“I've never been more ready”

Francesco Registered to volunteer with the Anpas Emilia Romagna Italy, Parma

Francesco is based in Parma, one of Italy's regions most affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. As a volunteer ambulance driver for the Emergency Medical Service (Anpas Emilia Romagna), his services are in high demand to support the local population as they face the crisis. To support volunteers and medical staff across our borders, The EU is ensuring the provision of medical equipment by ramping up production of medical devices and equipment, and negotiating new supplies for those regions hardest hit.