The Pubbliche Assistenze, Italian Associations that provided assistance to the general public, began to form in 1860. Inspired by solidaristic ideals and acting on the belief that people should help one another as brothers and sisters, they were free, secular and democratic associations of volunteers open to anyone’s participation.
Multiplying rapidly across most of the nation, the associations devoted their efforts to such activities as emergency medical rescue, disaster relief, support programs for the disadvantaged, and the popularization of civil rights and public health awareness.
Eventually developing a need for coordination at the national level, they joined together in 1904, in Spoleto, Italy, creating the Federazione Nazionale delle Società di Pubblica Assistenza e Pubblico Soccorso, which received official recognition as an “Institution Devoted to Public Good” in a 1911 King’s Decree. In 1989 the Federazione Nazionale took on its present name and became the Associazione Nazionale Pubbliche Assistenze.
Today, ANPAS is a national-level independent unitary movement that grounds its associative and institutional activities on democratic constitutional principles, community participation and volunteer work.