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SI Club Estoril-Cascais, Portugal

In Portugal, the phenomenon of ageing in the population is growing, giving way to social responses which consist mainly in institutionalising the elderly. However, the immigrant population of African origin adopted the social practice of keeping the elders in the community, often by creating informal support networks and social sharing groups. Women, in particular, are the agents of such networks, which shows their leadership and capacity to influence the community in a positive way, as well as caring for the physical and psychological well-being of its members.

 

But beyond this potential, elderly immigrant women are also subject to the risk of exclusion: isolation, devaluation of the older person’s social role, the non-existence of activities geared to the development of the elderly women.

 

The project offers activities aiming to place elderly immigrant women at the center of their own transformation. It takes place in the neighbourhood called Bairro da Outurela (a zone with a great concentration of people of African origin). The plan initiated by the Soroptimists of Estoril-Cascais is to create a group composed of 10 to 15 elderly immigrant women (although activities do not exclude the participation of non-immigrant women). The project adopts a new type of social intervention methodology, based on:

 

  • “safe to fail”: women take part in group activities called life stories during which they share their stories,
  • “five o’clock tea”: women specify their needs and the support network that can be provided to them,
  • “try out new life experiences”: physical activities and illness prevention actions.

 

The expected impact of this Soroptimist project is to improve the quality of life, foster higher levels of physical and mental health among these women, enhance their leadership in their community and strengthen informal social networks so that these targeted women can play a major role in society.

 

In view of the success of this collective effort, the Soroptimists of Estoril-Cascais seek for the adoption of the effective activities and methodology of the project to be replicated wherever proves necessary.

 

By SIE Programme Team

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