United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Social Work in Portugal

Fundacao de Assistencia Medica Internacional (AMI Foundation) (
Non-governmental organization (NGO)

    In 2020, AMI supported a total of 9.633 people in Portugal, through 15 social facilities and responses, namely 9 Porta Amiga Centres, 2 Night Shelters, 2 street teams,1 home help service and 1 food reception point, which develop a number of social services (social assistance/support, employment support, food distribution, social canteens, computer libraries against computer exclusion, vocational training, literacy, psychological support, changing rooms). Since 1994, when the first Porta Amiga Centre opened, we have supported 78.928 people in situations of poverty and social exclusion in Portugal.

    Implementation of the Project/Activity

    Our main concern is to respect the time and the specific nature of each beneficiary’s life story, seeking to find the most appropriate responses to their situation. This is the only way to help improve the living conditions of the people who seek our support. Despite the pandemic situation and the restrictions enacted by the General Health Directorate, the monthly averages, both of frequency and of new cases, were higher than those recorded in the previous year (3,266 and 165 respectively), with the months of March and April registering the less affluence to social facilities, which is attributed to the lockdown. In 2020, 2.189 new people sought AMI’s social support for the first time. AMI’s social facilities in Portugal supported an average of 3435 people per month, with a monthly average of 182 new cases of poverty. In the Lisbon and Porto metropolitan areas, 5233 and 2986 people, respectively, turned to AMI’s social services. 393 people sought help from the Porta Amiga Centre in Coimbra. In Funchal and Angra do Heroísmo, AMI’s services were sought by 435 and 594 people, respectively. The social work was carried out also by the street teams and the shelters working with the homeless population in Lisbon and Porto, as well as by the home support service providing domiciliary aid to elderly people in Lisbon. We’ve also awarded 57 scholarships to college students to support the payment of their tuition fees, gave school supplies to 3269 children and promoted awareness raising sessions on the SDGs in several schools.


    Among other results, we highlight the fact that over 170 thousand meals were served in the social facilities and through the Home Support Service; 50 SDG awareness sessions were held for 2970 students; 59 scholarships were awarded to university students; 74 people were integrated into the labor market through the monitoring of AMI's Social services; 41 people were supported through the Home Support Service; of the 123 men who lived in 2020 at the AMI Shelters in Lisbon and Porto, 17 achieved some financial autonomy and moved to rooms or another housing response, such as social housing, 3 went to live with family or friends, 7 left for another institutional response (another type of shelter or therapeutic communities), 2 emigrated and 9 left to work outside the coverage area of the Shelters; and through the monitoring and social support they received at the Shelters, 44 men were able to be placed in the labor market, consequently promoting processes of independence.

    Enabling factors and constraints

    Despite the pandemic, AMI’s social and home support services, and street teams serving the homeless population remained active. The cafeteria service was reduced in person, giving priority to the delivery of meals to take away. Food distribution was carried out with the contingency protocols in force. The Night Shelters in Lisbon and Porto were open 24 hours. To ensure the most vulnerable and at-risk beneficiaries of AMI stayed at home, we launched the campaign “A Friend in need is a friend indeed”, which aimed to raise funds for the purchase of baskets of food and basic hygiene products and to recruit volunteers for their distribution.

    Sustainability and replicability

    AMI’s social support in Portugal is a project that has been replicated throughout the years since 1994, when the social centre was opened. Now there are social centres all over the country and both the street team and shelter in Lisbon were replicated in Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. In January 2021, AMI has taken over the management of a Municipal Emergency Accommodation Center for homeless women created by the Lisbon City Council to combat Covid-19. This social facility welcomes 18 homeless women, over 18 years old. Over the years, our reporting mechanisms such as databases have been constantly improved to meet the reporting demands of our stakeholders and to analyze our contribution to the SDGs.

    COVID-19 Impact

    Aware of its responsibilities and its vocation in the area of Humanitarian Aid, AMI continued to guarantee all the support to the vulnerable population that uses its services and even reinforced it, having defined clear and preventive contingency measures in all its infrastructures in Portugal for the defense and protection of the health of both the beneficiaries and their employees. Nevertheless, it was difficult to maitain everything working since the follow-up by phone isn't has effective as the face-to-face one and there were few alternatives to replace people who were absent due to illness, prophylactic isolation or family support. AMI also made every effort to respond to the various calls from health structures and other groups in Portugal, which have mobilized to find solutions to combat Covid-19.

    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    01 January 2020 (start date)
    31 December 2020 (date of completion)
    Fundacao de Assistencia Medica Internacional (AMI Foundation)
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    Other beneficiaries

    In 2020, of the population who attended AMI's social facilities, 52% were women and 48% were men between 30 and 59 years old (39%). The population of working age (61%) continues to be the predominant one. There has been an increase in the number of supported children and young people under the age of 16 (34%) in recent years, as well as a younger population, under the age of 30 (50%). The most significant nationality is the Portuguese (84%).

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