CRESCER NA MAIOR - ASSOCIAÇÃO DE INTERVENÇÃO COMUNITÁRIA
We plan to have other formal and non-formal partnerships, with community actors/structures that can respond to the needs of the group, like health and social support structures and local authorities.
W4W is about giving voice and empowering women who have experienced homelessness and are in the process of recovery. They want to support other women who are now in a homeless situation, by creating a women-for-women peer-based association. They have experienced the greater vulnerability women experience in the streets and, want to change this reality and give a voice to their peers supporting them and advocating for their rights. Through this project, we want to empower them to do that!
In a territory with social urban fractures, those in most vulnerable situations and social exclusion have few to no opportunities or resources for voicing their needs and actively participating as changing agents of their communities. Within vulnerable groups, such as people experiencing homelessness, migrants and refugees, people dealing with drug use related risks and harms, surviving violence, stigma and/or discrimination, women are in a particular form of vulnerability, and do not have the answers that meet their particular needs. Women in homeless situation are a group of most vulnerability among vulnerable groups.
The target group we want to reach is women who are or have been in a homeless situation, being one of the groups with higher vulnerability among vulnerable groups. As triggers to fall into homelessness we often find a history of domestic violence and/or poverty.
Beyond the characteristics we find in homeless populations, such as lack of family and social support, health and physical comorbidities and drug use; women experience additional challenges like menstruation, sexual abuse, poor sexual and pregnancy health-care (HomelessHub 2018). Their homelessness might be more hidden to remain unnoticed as a survival and security strategy to reduce the consequences of living on the streets. Last published data indicate that 10% of the total homeless people in Lisbon were women (ENIPSSA, 2018).
We will work in an holistic approach, developing the following activities:
-Engage women who are/have experienced homelessness to create a women peer-led association
-Needs and resources assessment of the target group
-Facilitate the creation of an identity for the CSO with an active role from the target group
-Logo creation, branding and social networks
-Mentorship provided by Metzineres, facilitating the replication of good practices:
oCapacitation sessions (on-site and online) to successfully implement a peer-led association addressing needs of women in homeless condition and/or in a situation of multiple vulnerabilities
o2-day job shadowing at Metzineres to share good practices and mentoring their proper adaptation to local community reality
-Sensibilization actions with local relevant actors (police agents, health and social professionals, local decision-makers)
-Informative session on legal requirements and procedures to create the CSO
-Bureaucratic process to legally constitute the CSO
For sustainability, we will work on the development of formal partnerships, such as the Municipality of Lisbon and the Social Security Institute.
Once the CSO is created, we intend to create a safe place where women in a homeless situation could come for support (psychological, food, basic hygiene, clothes, among others) and where we can give them a voice through advocacy work
Formal creation of 1 peer-led CSO for women in a homeless situation
Creation of identity of the CSO
Mobilization of 20 women for the constitution of the CSO
Support for 50 women
6 capacity building sessions performed by Metzineres
2 sensibilization actions performed by the group of women
1 informative session performed by a partner
Minimum of 10 partners involved in the initiative (including formal and non-formal, such as Health, Social, local-based structures, local authorities, private enterprises)
The basis of this project is community involvement. This CSO will represent, be created and be run by peers, women who experienced a homeless situation. Through different actions, such as monthly meetings, informative sessions, capacity building activities, we intend to support women and provide the basic tools to empower themselves and have a voice.
By enabling these women to materialize their desire to help other women who are in the same situation as they were in the past, their sense of self-confidence will be reinforced. Feeling stronger and supported by peers will allow them to gain the strength to speak out their voice and gain visibility with local actors and policymakers, playing a valuable part in the community decision-making.
The team behind the idea is composed by 1 professional from CRESCER and 2 peers. CRESCER team develops community intervention with vulnerable groups from a Harm Reduction approach since 2001 in Lisbon, having met and supported women experiencing homelessness. The idea of creating a peer-led association for women experiencing homelessness has been being nurtured by women that are now in their own recovery path in the framework of CRESCER projects, namely Housing First programme. Hence, both parts together have a deep knowledge of the territory and a meaningful network of local partners and believe in engaging other women in an active role on their lives and their peers´, by civic participation, as a powerful way to alter and eliminate their underlining vulnerability.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Human Resources - 24 313 €
Equipment, office supplies, consumables & printing - 5 228 €
Bureaucratic fees for CSO creation - 600 €
Travel & Accomodation - 3 600 €
We would like to get feedback from other organizations that have already been involved in a process of creating a peer association for vulnerable groups on the challenges they have encountered in this process and that might help us foresee further activities within the scope of this project.
SOMOS is a civil society organization in development as proposed by the W4W project. SOMOS aims to advocate for the rights of women who experience/have experienced homelessness and is a peer-led association, i.e., represented, created, and run by peers.
Between January and August 2022, the target group joined forces with some members of CRESCER, to start the process of the legal constitution of SOMOS organization. During this period, the mission, vision, and goals of the association were discussed and defined, as well as the role of each of the members.
These meetings were also fruitful to keep sharing life experiences, and emotions and strengthening ties between these women.
Besides weekly meetings and bureaucratic processes, we are working to establish local partnerships and to make the organization known to governmental entities and the general population.
In addition to the previous organizations committed to work with us, another one focused on the protection of victims, will develop sessions on domestic violence to inform the members of SOMOS organization on how to deal with this kind of situation.
We are also trying to find other organizations available to provide training sessions on different topics identified as needs of the target group.
On May 15th, some members of SOMOS were interviewed by a local newspaper. Elda and Somai told their life stories and how they got involved in this project.
By the end of May, the President of the Portuguese Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, invited SOMOS members to his official residence. The target group talked about their personal experience, challenges, and successes, and presented the current status of the organization they are involved in.
What comes next?
Since the legal requirements are already prepared, the next steps will be related to the bureaucratic registration, as well as the development of the organization's identity (logo, branding, among others).
We are preparing some training sessions in the next couple of weeks for our group to be as prepared as possible since the project is coming to an end.
As initially proposed, we are arranging a visit to our partners in Barcelona, Metzineres, so they can provide mentorship to the target group. We are also planning some training sessions about sexual and reproductive health, in collaboration with an organization focused on Planned Parenthood.
W4W intends on creating a peer-based association for women who are or have been in a homeless situation through community involvement. Women in a homeless situation are a group of greater vulnerability within groups in vulnerable situations – they often accumulate situations of poverty and domestic violence, are more exposed to abuse and sexual abuse and face inequalities to health care and housing access. Through community involvement, W4W aims at engaging women who are experiencing or have experienced a homeless situation to create a civil society organization – represented, created, and run by peers.
During November and December, W4W was transformed from an idea on paper to its own real and lively form. We have started working with the target group – women in vulnerable situations – and facilitating weekly meetings. The group is composed of women who want to join forces to create a civil society organization for women who are or have been in a homeless situation.
These meetings are moments of sharing, of building relationships between the people and moments of working. The weekly meetings are also a way of doing the needs and resources assessment of the group in an informal way.
In this initial phase, we have developed a strategy so that more women can join the group: we have selected a name for the group – SOMOS (WE ARE) and we have worked together on a flyer to distribute:
We have also developed a lot of work around the objectives and goals of the civil society organization that will be created.
We have worked on developing partnerships with organizations that make sense to involve to accomplish our goals and guarantee sustainability, namely which will work on reflective and capacity building sessions.
We have 3 organizations committed to work with us: one focused on social economy, which will develop 2 to 3 workshops on how to formalize and operationalize a civil society organization and another focused on Planned Parenthood, which will lead conversations about sexual and reproductive health.
The third organization is our partner Metzineres, with whom we had our first meeting to talk about our strategy to work together.
The developed partnerships respond to a need expressed from the group to have training sessions on different topics.
On another note, it is important for the group to have menstrual hygiene products to distribute in the meetings and in the streets, when approaching other women, and we are gathering efforts to accomplish a partnership with a retail business that would supply us with these items.
We ended 2021 with a meeting that reflected on the year that passed, but also with a reflection about the group: what we want to keep, start and stop. We are looking forward to continue our work together on 2022!