Cold wave sees Faro ‘beef up’ homeless assistance

Faro Council has increased the assistance it provides to homeless people due to the cold wave that hit Portugal last week.

Faro Mayor Rogério Bacalhau has lamented, however, that some still “refuse” the help that is offered.

Indeed, convincing homeless people to accept a helping hand remains one of the biggest challenges, he told Lusa news agency.

Due to the extremely cold weather, Faro’s municipal civil protection has been meeting “two or three times a week” to prepare support for the borough’s 24 identified homeless people.

Only five of them actually live on the street. The others squat or sleep in abandoned houses, the mayor said.

Support is provided by Faro’s homeless planning and intervention team (PISA) with the help of police forces (GNR and PSP), the union of parishes of Sé and São Pedro), drug abusers’ support group G.A.T.O, Movimento de Apoio à Problemática da Sida (MAPS) – a group which helps people with a wide range of issues from drug addiction and homelessness to HIV/Aids – and the Santa Casa da Misericórdia.

The borough’s homeless are monitored every other day, and are invited to spend these cold nights at the local fire station – but many still refuse, said the mayor, adding that the council also set up tents for them to have a more comfortable place to spend the night.

“The only person that showed up left in the middle of the night,” said Bacalhau.

Nonetheless, the council continues to provide meals and blankets with the support of local institutions.

Despite the resistance from some of these vulnerable citizens, Bacalhau says the council will always be willing to help them.

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