Florinhas do Vouga
“Florinhas do Vouga” is a symbol of solidarity in Aveiro. It is the most known IPSS in our city, responding to various social challenges.
“Florinhas do Vouga” is certainly the symbol of solidarity in Aveiro! The institution was founded in 1940, by Bishop D. João Evangelista de Lima Vidal. Eighty years later, it is the most known IPSS in our city, offering different responses to various social challenges. Today, 75 people work in Florinhas, with the help of 110 volunteers.
The institution operates mostly in the parish of Glória, where one of the most problematic social neighborhoods in the city is located (Bairro de Santiago), also responding, whenever necessary, to requests from neighboring parishes and others, some of them outside the municipality. They are working in the areas of Children and Youth, Elderly Population, Families and Community, and Drug Addiction.
During a conversation with Andreia Ruela from Florinhas, we learned about the biggest challenges that the institution has been facing, and especially due to the pandemic.
During the pandemic, the prolonged suspension of our services was felt and it became clear how important the existence of routines is. The lack of activities to stimulate fine motor and cognitive skills for which families do not always have the capacity to support, had an impact such as loss of autonomy, and facing overwhelming emotions. This is a new reality that families were not used to - tells us Andreia.
The existence of large families with various problems, with no income from work, that are depending on income from social benefits, and in general vulnerable families, led the Institution to act as a mediator in the Community Program for helping those in need and to look for synergies in order to optimize its existing resources and respond to social emergencies. Some examples of this program are the “Mercearia e Companhia'' action, which supports approximately 200 families each month with food, clothing and other items, and the “Warm Supper” which distributes a daily food supplement to the homeless people from Aveiro.
Another challenge is related to mental health. Although the institution offers support through a partnership that they have with a psychologist, they feel more is needed to be done.
More and more people, and especially young people, need this type of help. We have cases with bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, people who are lost and need help to find their way out of this situation. Unfortunately we aren’t always able to give an adequate answer to it.
The institution has another preoccupation - they would like to improve their work when it comes to the issues of healthy food, so that the food baskets that they offer can be more nutritious. The products that families receive from the EU and Banco Alimentar most of the time are deep-frozen or cans.
This comes very handy in terms of logistics, but our wish is to work with local producers, to include their products. We are neglecting the environmental and economic side, and it is a difficult path and a difficult management because they need to arrange the logistical part to receive and store the products that arrive and they also work in the uncertainty of what producers may have. Meanwhile, many families appear with eating disorders such as obesity, anorexia. It is spoken about hunger, but not about nutritional poverty.
When it comes to collaboration with different local associations, Florinhas do Vouga is open to it. Andreia Ruela says it is important to identify needs that cut across all local organizations and share resources.
Even if the activities we have done with other associations are punctual, they are always challenging and it is important for our institution to also feel challenged and open doors to collaboration. With Bio Living we did the sowing of acorns, wild animal footprints in plaster with the children and these are always very positive activities. We always notice the impact, it stays with the children, it stays with the users. With Agora Aveiro we made the origami and it was good. It was a one time action that we later reproduced and did several times. It allowed children, elderly people, different groups, with different skills to come together. There is sharing of material resources, but we would also like to share human resources, providing spaces… Associations need to be challenged in this regard.
There are many things on “to do list” of Florinhas do Vouga, but even more on the list of what has already been done. In global terms, the Institution has adopted a strategy of effective prevention, promotion and inclusion of the target population and so they will keep their fight for a better tomorrow for everyone.
Florinhas accepts volunteers and occasionally they need different goods (clothes, hygiene products, etc.) Volunteers are needed for different social responses, such as “Warm dinner”, study support, digital skills... To stay tuned, follow their Facebook page or get in touch via email.
This publication is part of the "Solidarity Map of Aveiro". This project aims to give visibility to the different institutions that work tirelessly on social causes in Aveiro and to promote solidarity and volunteering in the community. It includes 10 organisations and the significant projects they are developing and implementing. This project is funded by the European Commission's European Solidarity Corps programm.