The Human Safety Net
The city of Venice is famous all over the world for its ingenuity, openness, and imagination, qualities that are embodied in the symbol of the winged lion. The banner of the Republic is also intertwined with Generali’s history: the group’s founders actually set up their first Italian offices in Venice in 1832, in the majestic Procuratie Vecchie overlooking the south side of St. Mark’s Square. Today, immersed in the fragile ecosystem of its lagoon, Venice’s future is increasingly linked to its role as the global capital of sustainability.
And Generali’s 190th anniversary coincides with the beginning of a new story for the Procuratie Vecchie. A story that is grafted onto a past made up of openness and support for those most in need. The Procuratie buildings that surround St. Mark’s Square on three sides were once the apartments of the Procurators of the Serenissima, worthy citizens who dealt with the administration of the city as well as charitable activities.
Today, these same rooms are projecting the Procuratie Vecchie into a future centred on values of social inclusion and sustainability. For the first time in 500 years, the Procuratie Vecchie will be open to the public as the home of The Human Safety Net, a movement of people helping people, supporting both families with children under six and refugees living in vulnerable circumstances. Launched by Generali in 2017, The Human Safety Net is now active in 23 countries across three continents: Europe, South America, and Asia. So far, the initiative has reached more than 150,000 parents, children, and refugees.
All of this should not come as a surprise, if we consider Generali’s main purpose: to help people, businesses, and families build a safer future, taking care of their lives and dreams. With The Human Safety Net, the group is simply extending its commitment to the most vulnerable communities. The initiative is closely linked to Generali’s sustainability strategy and, by calling on the power of partnerships, it responds to the global challenge to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations’ 2030 agenda, including those of no poverty, good health and wellbeing, quality education, decent work and economic growth, and reduced inequalities.
The Human Safety Net has activated two programmes to best pursue the objectives of social inclusion. Firstly, it is a support and safety network for families: it supports parents in the first six years of their children’s lives, the time in which the brain is developing fast (it is known that in the first five years of life, a child’s brain forms 90% of the neural connections of an adult’s), laying a solid foundation for their future. Thanks to the educators and the dialogue with other parents, parents become more aware of their role, giving their children the opportunity to fully realise their potential.
Secondly, The Human Safety Net supports refugees in the phase following their arrival in the host country. Though often gifted with the talent and resilience necessary to build successful businesses, these refugees have a real need for support in order to integrate into the host countries by starting new businesses and becoming entrepreneurs, or becoming better qualified to find a job through training courses.
The different programmes at the heart of this movement of people helping people are the result of an intense partnership between the movement’s NGO partners and Generali’s business units in the countries where it is active. The programmes enhance the partners’ work in the field to maximise the impact on the beneficiaries. The movement activates a network of people and the skills of its employees and agents, involving them not only with the winged lion brand and the Group’s geographical presence, but also aiming to link them more closely to Generali’s core business of insurance and asset management. In this way, The Human Safety Net gives new life to corporate social innovation. For example, in partnership with The Human Safety Net, Generali has developed two pilot projects of social impact investments for a total value of €34 million. These impact investing activities will have a wider-reaching effect on vulnerable families and refugees; in addition to funded programmes, they contribute to social inclusion in a broader sense.
With the aim of building an open network with global players, The Human Safety Net has joined forces with co-funding partners such as Cisco, Hogan Lovells, Fondazione Italiana Accenture, and others, to help amplify the impact of our programmes, through financial contributions and pro-bono consultancy. The Human Safety Net is a dynamic network embracing dialogue and partnerships with other companies, organisations, and institutions that share its objectives, in order to intensify its impact.
In this context, the contribution of the Group’s employees and agents is essential. Volunteering is a way of expressing active citizenship, a commitment that also takes place during working hours. The work of the volunteers has continued even throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Employees and agents have been involved in supporting families and refugees with recipe videos, games, and readings, as well as activities such as mentoring and language lessons, all strictly remotely.
In 2021, a global and digital Hackathon involved more than 800 employees in the translation and adaptation of 2,500 pieces of advice and videos for parents: these are now available to everyone on the site in more than 15 languages. Many partner NGOs are already using them in their own programmes.
In addition to taking on the unprecedented role of digital volunteers, 500 agents and employees have applied to become THSN Ambassadors, committing their time outside working hours to amplifying the impact of the initiative for an entire calendar year: they have offered their expert skills experts to partner NGOs and promoted fundraising campaigns, forming a movement of people helping people.
From spring 2022, returning visitors to THSN’s home in St. Mark’s Square, Venice, will be able to enjoy an experience linked to The Human Safety Net whose aim is to generate a reflection on human potential, involving and developing an even wider network of people helping people. Through an interactive journey, Venice’s tourists and citizens will discover the challenges faced by vulnerable people, see the social impact of The Human Safety Net’s programmes with their own eyes, and have the opportunity to join the movement and support it.
In the words of Generali CEO Philippe Donnet, the new home of The Human Safety Net “will represent our entire network, as an expression of our commitment to the community. It will be a global hub supporting, innovating and acting on the themes of sustainability on which The Human Safety Net is founded.” From the heart of Venice, a city that is already the queen of the Mediterranean, overlooking the sea and the world, The Human Safety Net will bridge the gaps between open and closed spaces, ancient institutions, social issues, and global challenges for a more inclusive and sustainable future.