Non Profit ID card. Aconchego Program, one of the winners of the first European social innovation competition
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Questions answered by Raquel Castello-Branco, Chief Executive Officer, Porto Social Foundation.
- Where are you based? Oporto, Portugal.
- What are you called? Aconchego Program.
- What are you doing and why? The Aconchego Program is the result of a partnership, which started in 2004, between our organization, the Porto Social Foundation, and the Academic Federation of Porto. Before getting together, these two institutions were very busy trying to solve their own problems: high number of elderly and isolated people and high number of students living outside the city looking for cheap accommodation, respectively. These institutions found each other and decided to join efforts to solve their problems through a partnership.The Aconchego program is based on an intergenerational perspective. Seniors provide housing to university students in their homes, and students contribute, while living with seniors and sharing the same home, to decrease their feelings of loneliness and isolation, promoting the welfare of seniors and their families.
-Do you have a website? www.bonjoia.org.
- What makes you so special? The vocation and ability to network with all organizations in the city. Plus, the Aconchego Program is one of the initiatives of the Porto Social Foundation with more emphasis in the media and interest from other partners in other cities. It has already been replicated in Lisbon and in Coimbra.
The turning point
- How did you start? The Porto Social Foundation started out as a foundation being the municipal instrument in Oporto for assistance in the field of social work. Porto Social Foundation promotes inclusion and social cohesion inside the city.
- What keeps you going every day? The desire to improve the quality of life of the Oporto city and its citizens.
- Who is your target? Elderly people and students. Over the years, the program gained its own dynamic, from the point of view of its members, meaning that, between 2004 and 2008, the demand was mostly from students and, since 2008, the demand increased significantly from seniors. It is our belief that this phenomenon of reversal of the group's demand is due to the fact that this is a program of relationships where trust and security are key elements. During these seven years of existence, the experiences of participation in the program were very rewarding. Nowadays, the promotion is word-of-mouth, especially among senior people. Seniors joining this program are from middle/upper class and autonomous. The students are mostly middle/lower class for who close relationships and ties of affection can be places of safety.
- How are you financed? By the municipality, by our own revenue, and other variable external support and funding.
- A proud moment? All the moments when we feel that we contribute to improve the quality of people’s life.
- A problem you face? One difficulty in developing the initiative is to achieve better matching between each senior and each student. Another significant obstacle overcome by the initiative is the balance of the demand for the program (either from students or seniors).
- Your personal motto when things get hard? Tomorrow is a new day.
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