4Change will work with disadvantaged adults from the neighbourhood of Ajuda, in partnership with this local municipality of the city of Lisbon.
The territory of Ajuda is a social, economic, cultural and demographically very diverse neighbourhood in the Lisbon area. Geographically, the territory has a difficult configuration on a hillside, with streams and gaps or barriers dividing the space - but this division has been negatively reinforced throughout time by urban desorganisation: the palace built after the 18th century earthquake is just one of the ‘obstacles’ of Ajuda, composed by half a dozen military and police quarters, churches and military hospitals – Ajuda's circulation and accessibility is difficult. Ajuda is bordered on one side by the 'posh' area of Restelo/Belém and three neighbourhoods classified by Lisbon's municipality as BIP – priority intervention zones sit on other sides. Two are social housing blocks with several social re-settlements – Casalinho and 2 de Maio – and the third, Rio Seco is an aged and urbanistically chaotic neighbourhood. Gentrification, pressed by real estate speculation and tourism is threatening the popular, low-income population and the relative demographic renovation of the last decade, as young people are no longer able to find a house here (prices, degradation and short-term rentals).
Historically it was a popular and traditional neighbourhood but always neglected by local and social policies. Among its diverse population there is high number of disadvantaged adults 23-59 and over (seniors with very low income); a high percentage of NEET young people 18-22 years old; and unemployed women.
The main inclusion issues faced by the Ajuda population are:
- De-structured families; one-parent families, especially mothers;
- A significant number of children with one of their parents in prison;
- Lack of support resulting in school failure and abandonment;
- Long-term unemployment and dependence on welfare;
- Precarious jobs, tough working hours, hard to manage family life;
- Bad quality nutrition and high number of mental health problems;
- Low education level (Low Hard Skills) and difficulties with basic competences (Low Soft Skills);
- Informal economy, including non-legal activities (drugs and guns);
- Ethnic specific issues (2nd PT percentage of Roma): school abandonment (girls at 12, boys at 16) and teen marriage and maternity.
- gentrification: the popular, low-income population and the relative demographic renovation of the last decade are pressed by real estate speculation and tourism
4Change has in its mission and in its values, an ambition to contribute to change and development in the local neighbourhood where part of its staff are located and Ajuda is a very neglected neighbourhood. 4Change has been developing projects and actions in Ajuda since 2014 - starting with an emancipatory and participatory diagnosis of the territory: main practice of community engagement called 'O Meu Bairro' / 'My neighbourhood' – has used participatory image methodologies (Photovoice and Participatory Video) as well as group dynamics, informal mapping and other practices.
The local municipality of Ajuda (Junta de Freguesia da Ajuda) is the associated partner of COMENSI - a cooperative and complementarity strategy will foster a mutually beneficial relationship when co-working on projects, actions and local social services e.g. Employment network and capacity building (Ajuda Emprega); Youth space (Academia Juventude Ajuda) for 10-20 years old, with school support and training and activities; Culture and Well-being house (Casa da Cultura).
Other relevant stakeholders considered for COMENSI are: Lisbon's Municipality; Fundação Liga, training for challenged people, other traditional, cultural and sports associations; the Ajuda Palace (for hosting events); the recent CUSCA, communitarian theatre and LU.CA, children's theatre.