Ensuring people in need have a safe and warm place to stay the night is the goal of a new shelter due to open soon in Patacão (Faro).
The project is led by 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.
The project has been in the pipeline for years and is finally moving forward thanks to the support of the Algarve’s agriculture and fishing board (DRAPAlg) which has provided a building in Patacão for which it didn’t have a use.
Hopes are that this shelter will become a refuge for the large number of people who find themselves without a place to stay the night in the region.
“The numbers in the Algarve are frightening,” Fábio Simão, president of MAPS, told Barlavento newspaper.
“There are many people living on the street. This new shelter has been in the pipeline ever since the closure of the former CAES shelter in 2017. We want to provide dignity to those who have lost it.
“Our goal is for people to wake up and feel like they are deserving of a room, of a house,” he said.
Simão explained that the shelter will help MAPS “continue our work of socially rehabilitating people and helping them integrate into society” and will also provide an invaluable boost to the municipality’s capacity to provide a safe place for people in need to sleep.
MAPS vice-president Elsa Morais Cardoso also spoke to Barlavento about how most people don’t have a clue about “how hard it is” for people in these tough situations to wake up in the morning.
She spoke of one person who lives in “unconventional housing” and every day walks 40 minutes to the MAPS headquarters at 6am to take a shower before going to work.
“There are people who make tremendous and painful efforts on a daily basis,” she said, adding that the new shelter will boast 25 beds for people in “emergency situations” and 20 beds for “temporary lodging”.
It will also feature a nursing station, three offices, a training room, a laundry room, a cafeteria and dressing rooms, one of which will be disabled-friendly.
Another highlight is the building’s surrounding gardens and shaded areas, which will provide a pleasant environment for the people staying at the shelter.
The project is “three to six months away from being completed”, Fábio Simão told the paper, explaining that a series of improvements, totalling around €100,000, will be carried out to the building before the shelter opens.
MAPS is calling on donors to help raise the money and to provide much-needed items such as towels, bed linen, and construction materials such as tiles and glass.
“We will have to start knocking on many doors when the time comes,” Fábio Simão said.
Original article written by Maria Simiris for Barlavento newspaper.