The number of elderly people taking part in Rome city authorities ten-minute grandparents scheme escorting children across roads around their schools has more than tripled in the last five years.

When the scheme began in 2001 as Un amico per la citt, 750 elderly people took part to help children at the beginning and end of the school day at around 100 nursery, elementary and middle schools. The figure has risen to over 2,500 elderly helpers, now assisting at over 300 different schools.

All the volunteers have followed a training course, wear special jackets for identification and are in contact with an organizational network via mobile phones. Six volunteers are stationed at each school, working shifts so that their presence is guaranteed at the start of the school day (08.00-08.45) and at the end (12.00-12.50 or 16.00-16.30).

Some of the elderly volunteers offer their services in public parks watching over children. Around 61 per cent of the volunteers are men, and most are aged between 66 and 70. To volunteer with the Un amico per la citt initiative, tel. Casa del Volontariato 063722154, Mon-Fri 09.00-18.00.