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Mario Siotto is from Sardinia in Italy and he came to live in Newry in 2002. He is here now 19 years and loves being here, as he loves Newry. Mario came to Northern Ireland in August 1988 to meet "a gorgeous woman from Belfast" who he had met earlier that year in Milan. Driving around at a time when there was a lot of tension in the north, the pair discovered Newry. Mario comments “I thought Newry had a load to offer and we decided to move in to this beautiful city. I could sense that the Newry community is growing together and I knew it was place for me and my wife” *

The couple came to live in Newry after Mario retired from his engineering job in Italy. At the beginning he tried to find a job which would contribute to the lovely community in Newry. He finally found a job in the one of the best organisations, St. Vincent de Paul. Which serves him so well as this is helping the people around him.

Mario Siotto
Mario Siotto. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Mario was born in Iglesias in Italy and is the 'baby' of a family of 8! He still has relatives back home. In his early days he worked as a Mining engineer, spending 26 years of his life in Iglesias, but due to the crisis to the industry he had to emigrate and retire from his trade.

One of the biggest reasons why Mario loves Newry is that the community here and back home are very similar, for him there is no difference at all. Being here feels that he is home in Italy.

In 2009 having joined the society of St. Vincent de Paul for which he works full time until this present day. Mario is the Drop in Centre Manager in Newry. The Drop in Centre in Newry was opened in 2010 and through the economy crash in 2010 the doors were always open, until March 2020 when they closed due to Covid 19. With much regret he cannot serve hot meals no more for the moment and create this helpful atmosphere. However, he still helps people in need by sending food parcels out. Mario takes great pride in saying that since March 2020 until today they have given out nearly 9 thousand food parcels. Mario adds “A big thanks to the fantastic community in Newry who raised and gave very big support when it was very much needed, for me it is very rewarding because I love helping others”

Mario is a very kind and helpful man whose hobbies include walking in the countryside. Besides that he doesn’t have time or interest in anything apart from helping those in need as that is were his heart truly lies. He dedicates most of his time to the needy as much as he can. In his spare time, he collects donations for the shops. 

Being a member of the Newry community he strongly feels that the city should build a shelter for the homeless saying that “Homelessness is not only the person who lives on the streets, it is people who are facing loads of challenges due to difficult circumstances. I have seen a lot of homeless people and it would be very important for me and it would be a very important improvement for Newry”

Reflecting on Newry if he could change anything it would be to see more tolerance in the city, as this is very important. There are many people coming to Newry to better themselves and improve their lives. Mario comments “If we could be more accommodating and more tolerant towards each other that would be a big advantage. Before Covid 19 in our Drop in Centre we were organising English classes for non-English speakers to help them to integrate in our society. I believe we have great community and everyone should respect each other’s. I would love to see more of tolerance and respect in Newry"

Mario concludes "It is very important to me to give something back to this lovely community because of the way I was treated. I was always welcomed and treated as one of the members of the community. I would call myself a “foster child of Newry”. I am very delighted to be here and just want to make at Newry's disposal my skills.”

* EDIT 12/4/21 - Changed first paragraph as dates were incorrect.

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