The Gericuidar project of Lisbon's Serviço Jesuíta aos Refugiados - JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service) won the first ever REN AGIR Prize, an annual initiative that has been created to support projects finding solutions to specific social problems. The 2014 AGIR Prize focused on job creation, in particular projects with an intergenerational component.
This 12-month project fosters the social and professional integration of around 50 immigrant women in the elderly care area, through training sessions and the setting up and development of a Support Department for the Elderly and Caregivers, which forms part of JRS's employment and training area.
The project is aimed at a target audience that is highly discriminated against and with extra difficulty in accessing the labour market, for various reasons. It is intended to respond to the growing need for elderly carers due to an ageing population, by providing practical and theoretical training to a group of pre-selected immigrants.
Second place in this year's AGIR Prize was awarded to the 'As Maiatas' project of Maia's Santa Casa da Misericórdia's (a nationwide charitable organisation). The project aims to become an intergenerational solidarity cooperative, creating elderly carer jobs for long-term unemployed women (unemployed for over 5 years) aged over 40 years. It is envisaged that the project will employ 12 women and benefit 40 elderly persons, to whom they will provide various types of home care.
This initiative aims to widen its areas of activity to provide more services as the cooperative grows: community laundry, making jams and conserves, sewing service, community vegetable garden and a family support service, to include staff members' families (babysitting).
The 'Ferreira Empreende' project was awarded third prize. This project is the result of a partnership between Esdime and Ferreira do Alentejo Municipal Council. The project's aim is to respond to the challenge of ensuring young people set up residence in inland regions through the creation of micro-companies. It is a 12-month integrated internship programme for young people in the Ferreira do Alentejo Companies Start-up Agency, enabling them to test and hone their skills through real sales and marketing during this period, creating and developing their own businesses.
The AGIR Prize is, according to Emílio Rui Vilar, Chairman and CEO of REN, 'a project that embodies REN's commitment to active citizenship. A commitment that includes the investment it makes at a grass roots community level, both in terms of environmental conservation activities and encouraging education and research as well as social support.'
2015 AGIR Prize
The Agir Prize fits in with REN's Community engagement and Social Innovation policy. Every year the AGIR Prize chooses an area of social intervention and selects three winning projects. In 2014, the first year of the initiative, the focus was on stimulating job creation.
The selection of the three best projects from a total of around 130 candidates was made by REN in partnership with the Bolsa de Valores Sociais - BVS (Social Stock Exchange), which tracks and monitors the use of donated funds for each of the supported projects and assesses the actual social impact of REN's support for each project.
The AGIR Award is directed at non-profit associations, companies and organisations. The project awarded first prize receives €30,000, with the runner-up receiving €15,000 and the third-placed project awarded €5,000.
The next edition of the Agir Prize will be dedicated to Active Ageing.
The elderly resident population of Portugal represents around 19% of the total population. This is why measures that fight isolation and loneliness are necessary, ones that tear down stereotypes and prejudices about the role to be played by the elderly. Solutions are also required that meet the deteriorating health and reduced mobility conditions that so often go hand-in-hand with ageing. Projects wishing to be considered for the Prize should be submitted between 1 November 2014 and 15 January 2015. The Prize rules can be viewed on REN's site (www.ren.pt)