The Scalabrini Centre originally takes its name from John Baptist Scalabrini, the Bishop of Piacenza, who founded the Scalabrini order in 1887 to care for the welfare of migrants. Today the Scalabrini Fathers specifically care for migrants, refugees, and seafarers, interpreting migration as a meeting place for people of different cultures and nationalities. The Congregation and their various lay organisations can be found in 24 nations across Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

The Scalabrini Fathers have been providing welfare services in Cape Town to displaced communities since 1994.