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European Youth Portal

Information and opportunities for young people across Europe.


Abrigo Seguro - Associação de Solidariedade Social

EVS Accreditation Details
EVS accreditation type
EVS accreditation expiry date 11/02/2016
Location Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
Organisation topics
Inclusion topics

EVS accreditation number


For more information about volunteering and European Voluntary Service in particular, visit the Voluntary Activities section of this website.

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Project Environment


Abrigo Seguro (“Safe Shelter”) is placed in Avintes, a village in Vila Nova the Gaia, which is close to the city of Porto, in the North Coast of Portugal. We may say that we are placed in a village with about 13.000 inhabitants, who have a very important historical, cultural and environmental legacy and with great history of traditions. Avintes, by being a small town, can be proud of having deep cultural roots, it is well known in the local area by it’s busy theatre performance agenda and it is the council where the most active theatre life occurs in Porto region. Practically every weekend it is possible to see a good theatre or other cultural show there. Avintes trademark is the famous bread “Broa de Avintes”, the bread also has been honoured by different events in the town. Nevertheless by being located so close to the city centre of Gaia and Porto, the cultural agenda and the artistic environment is offered in all it’s splendour.

Avintes also is one of the oldest villages of V.N.Gaia Municipality and i recently it is going through the effects of increasing urbanisation – lack of education, unemployment, bad infrastructure, pollution, etc. Abrigo Seguro involves mostly youngsters that live not only in this area, but also in all the surrounding area of Porto city in our activities. Transportation from Avintes to V.N.Gaia as well as to Porto is quite easy. There are buses every 15 minutes (from 6.30 a.m to 9.00 p.m) or every 30 minutes (from 9.00 p.m to 1.00 a.m) and it takes about 15 minutes to get to the city centre of Gaia and about 25 minutes to get to Porto city centre.

The Municipality of Vila Nova de Gaia has about 300 thousand inhabitants, being the third most populated city in the country, registering the highest population growth rate in all Porto surrounding area and assuming the role of a “Sleeping-city”, where thousands of workers that go to Porto to work everyday live. This centralization of Porto city does not at all contribute to a sustainable development of the surrounding councils, including Vila Nova de Gaia.

As far as the rate is concerned, V.N.Gaia registers the lowest rate of population who is less than 65 years old (11,7%) and when compared with the rest of the country, it registers a high percentage of population aged between 0-14 (17,6%).

In terms of economy, the councils of Porto surrounding area are feeling the effects of the economic crisis that our country is facing. The shifting of several multinational companies to the other parts of the world and the breakdown of important sectors such as building industry are causing a huge set-back in the regional economy and therefore an increasing unemployment rate.

Taking this context into account, Abrigo Seguro (Safe Shelter) has been involving a wider range of people from different areas and with different ages, the environmental issues are becoming more global everyday, but at the same time they demand a local intervention that we try to promote, so as to stimulate a region, which has not been growing in a sustained way.


Abrigo Seguro is developing 3 projects that cover almost all the social problems in the local area, the projects are: “To teach to include” (this project is mostly to work directly with youngsters in needs), “Support to Families Section” (with this project we try to cover the need of direct support to the family, as it have an important role in the surrounding community), and the “Health community sensitazation Project” (to try to improve the community life quality and information in general). The inclusion of EVS volunteers in the Projects will be a double enrichment: first - to the local community that really need fresh ideas and to open up to diffent ways of life to start an intercultural learning to impove the social understanding (Avintes don’t receive foreigners - emigrants or visitors frequently and it is important for the population to become more open and near by the european way of life), second – for the vollunteer to have contact with a pilot project that started in 2006 and is having visible results already, to have the oppotunity to directly work with the population and to test an intensive inovative way of global social intervention. The volunteers have the possibility to contact with the different social institutions and to learn ways of cooperation by the experience, and maybe, in the future to try to implement them back home, in their countries.

Also the working area of the organization itself deals with the non-formal and informal education, in this way the volunteers will have the opportunity to try out different working and learning styles, that will help them to acquire essential competences and will contribute to their personal and professional development.

The daily contact with the Portuguese people as well as the fact that the voluntary service takes place in different places, in different range of environments and situations will facilitate the social inclusion and active citizenship.

Moreover for the volunteer the participation in the daily life of our organization can serve as a great professional experience and may help them later in the future to find a better job.

The activities of this project regards, essentially, the promotion of social inclusion in general and the raise of young people’s awareness and their integral development. We try to achieve this by the daily work with the youngsters in the Youth Centre, by showing other possibilities of life – throught the activities, visits, and intercultural contacts and activities, also we make awareness sessions for parents and the local community in general, and by the implementation of the Project “Social Boutique”.

The cooperation of a European Volunteer in this project will add value to it, since they will bring new perspectives and a new energy to the group that has been working on it, as well as to the target group of these activities, which is composed mainly by young people. The contact with the young will allow the exchange of experiences related to the work that was been developed by young people in the fields of social inclusion, making it easier to acquire new approaches and different methodologies by sharing different ideas and concepts.

The volunteer, on the other hand, may benefit by the participation in several activities, where it will be possible to: develop and acquire skills related to the monitoring animation activities, acquire new concepts of non-formal education, obtain experience in planning and work out projects, get to know the natural environment and specific features of the rural and urban heritage of our country and acquire intercultural knowledge about Portugal as far as history, culture, language and daily life are concerned.

The activities carried out by Abrigo Seguro are mainly educational, the tasks of the volunteer are arranged with the intent of providing a useful range of experiences, offering the possibility to work directly with the community in the main projects of the organisation. The volunteer will be given the opportunity to experience what is done and to give his personal contribution by making suggestions and taking initiatives.

The volunteer will work together with people already involved in the different projects and will never be used as substitute personnel. There will be a wide variety of options so as to match the volunteer’s interests and skills with the different activities, in which he/she intends to gain more experience.

The volunteer working time is flexible, according to the programmed activities, but in a general way, it will be according to a regular working schedule, from Monday to Friday, with free Saturdays and Sundays. In case there is a programmed activity for the weekend, the two free days will be on Monday and Tuesday. The volunteers won’t work more than 30 hours per week including the Portuguese lessons that will take place twice a week in a regular Portuguese Language Course for Foreigners in the Porto University. We are looking forward and expecting that the volunteer learns the Portuguese language. We will offer the language course in the University of Porto. The language acquisition will be also ensured through the everyday communication and will motivate the volunteer to learn the language. Volunteer will have 2 free days per week and plus free days per month (20 free days per 10 months).

Also is important to inform about the other conditions of the voluntary service, for example, related with the lodging, the volunteers will be lodged in a rented apartment that will be shared only with other EVS volunteers of the organization, this flat is placed 10 minutes walking from the main working place: the Youth Centre, the volunteers will share room with another volunteer (double rooms); about the meals, will be mainly cooked by the volunteer (excluding situations that will be a need to go to a restaurant, according to the voluntary service of the day) and all food receipts will reimburse by hosing organization. Will be provided pocket money for the volunteers every month (in the first day of the month). Volunteer will be provided with the local transportation necessary for work. The tickets will be reimbursed by hosting organization. In every days work public transportation will not be necessary. The Organization will provide more than one contact person for the volunteer, the idea of having more than one “mentor” is to try to fit more the needs of the volunteer and to try to give the needed support all the time, according with the specificities.


- Development of intercultural activities in the Youth Centre and for the surrounding community
- Daily work with the youngsters in the Youth Centre – to promote a “Meaningfull Learning”
- To promote non-formal education with youngsters with special needs
- To create or to search for inovative materials to use in the Youth Centre
- To create and make sensitization sessions for the local community (related with health care, education, and other subjects)
- To make contacts with the other institutions
- To develop activities for youngsters in the school
- To organize and dinamize the project “Social Boutique”
- Holidays camps

Typical working day:
14.00 – Arrival at the Youth Centre.
Organization and preparation of the activities of the day of the Youth Centre.
16.00 – Development and promotion of the day activity (it can be: group dynamic activity, manual activity, environmental education activity, language lessons, sports activity, intercultural activity, etc).
17.30 – Snack time break.
18.00 – Promotion of active free time to the youngsters.
19.15 – Evaluation of the day.
20.00 – End of activities.


Our volunteers are chosen regardless of their ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation or political opinion, or any other professional degree qualification. The volunteers should show interest in issues related with social subjects and people in needs, they should be open to work everyday with this issues and this public, and should be aware about what they will deal. Also will be interesting if the volunteer reveals animation skills and proactively.

The project information will be available on the EVS database on the Internet, so everyone who is interested in our project can apply.

Also characteristics as: flexibility, willingness to work as part of a group and willingness to learn new things, will be taken in consideration. Aspects as the which of interact with people, to be talkative and outgoing, while the majority of work is based on interpersonal relationships will be important. We also require someone who is willing to take initiatives and show willingness to Portuguese culture and willingness to learn.

For the selection process be more transparent, Abrigo Seguro, before selecting the candidates, send an email to all candidates asking if they still have interest to participate and then subsequently selects the candidates who are interested. After the selection procedure based on CV and motivation letter all the candidates are informed about the selection results.


3 volunteers.


Protection and safety is one of the main responsibilities of Abrigo Seguro towards the volunteers and their sending organizations as firstly we want to ensure our volunteers a safe place with all the needed conditions in order for them to live successful EVS experience here in Avintes. What concerns the town we can say Avintes is very quiet and secure zone in terms of violence. Only the benefits of living in a smaller town, as people knowing and protecting each other, can be found here.

Moreover the volunteer will live in a house which is fully equipped, it has fire protection and the rooms of the volunteers can be locked by the key. Also all the health conditions guaranteeing the safe and healthy environment for the volunteer are taken into consideration.

While travelling outside the office or the Youth Centre, the volunteer will always be accompanied by someone in the organization and will never be allowed to go to the organization’s activities alone.

Abrigo Seguro also will never work against volunteer's will. The volunteer can always choose whether participate or not in the activities that they find dangerous or inappropriate.

What concerns the psychological issues, we can ensure the appropriate actions, as organization has many trained employees in psychology and sociology working there. Besides the members of our organization will always organization will always organize several activities for our volunteers and help them to integrate better in the local society thus providing a voluntary safe and secure environment to live in.

To prevent crises, we will always organize many meetings and trips for the volunteers to feel more comfortable and get to know as much from Portugal as possible during their time here.

We will also inform our volunteers about the opportunities offered by Youth Helpdesk, and we strongly encourage our volunteers to meet with other European volunteers in Portugal in order to share experiences and to feel more comfortable and happy.

We will also make sure that the volunteers do not engage in the environment of alcohol or any other substance abuse, neglect, bullying or discriminations by inviting them to meet people and engage in activities that promote opposite life styles.

What concerns the information about the actions and the help in emergency situations, on the first meeting we give the volunteers the information about the local hospitals, fire stations as well as police office, nevertheless this information also always is posted on the wall in a very seen place in the working place of the volunteers and also we offer a special training for our employees, volunteers as well as the children of the Centre of how to react in emergency situations. Even more in every situation we encourage the volunteers also to ask the mentor or the supervisor of the project to ask for help as they would never refuse the help but would do all the best to help in every situation.

Motivation and EVS experience

The main reason why Abrigo Seguro wants to participate in European Voluntary Service projects is the exchange of intercultural experiences that the volunteers as and the members of the organization share during the service time. We find the EVS a great opportunity for volunteers and members of organization as well as the whole local society to have new experiences in many aspects, among them the most strongest one – the notion of European awareness and the power of being united in European Union and being able to share the knowledge.

The main target group of the organization essentially are the youngsters from whom a great part is exposed to different social problems, which comes along with the bad school achievement leading to social exclusion, and we think that will enrich our work and community that contact with foreigner volunteers with different backgrounds, different perspectives and, for sure, different interesting aspects to add to our Project.

Description of the organisation

The main aim is to fight against social exclusion of the children and youngsters, working also with the families. “The Safe Shelter” wish to restore the dignity of the children and youngsters that were excluded, providing an ascendant social mobility, that can change the surrounding community. To achieve that, we develop several educative and cultural activities that makes possible to our public to create different ways of life.

We want to change attitudes, values and competences, creating a positive change in the way of life, developing self-esteem and a positive self-concept of each person. To promote solid and stable relationships, based on trust. Our action / intervention is preventive, that incites proactively, capacitation and sensitization.

Abrigo Seguro (“Safe Shelter”) is a Non-Profit organization that have approximately 250 members and have two employers (full time) and a large group of volunteers and give other support to our daily work. The Youth Centre and the work with their families are the main activities of our institution, but what is more significant is the daily work with the kids with special needs.

Abrigo Seguro is developing 3 projects that cover almost all the social problems in the local area. The projects are: "To teach to include" (this project is mostly to work directly with youngsters in needs - daily work with children from 7h30 till 20h00, we use mainly non-formal education); "Support to Families Section" (with this project we try to cover the need of direct support to the family, as it has an important role in the surrounding community, trying to support families in the very basic needs an also to try to support in the educational level by courses and sensitization activities); the "Health community sensitization project" (to try to improve the community life quality an information in general, through sensitization activities and counselling).

We have several partnerships to go forward with our aims: CPCJ - Gaia Sul, Fundação Joaquim Oliveira Lopes, Junta de Freguesia de Avintes, Escola EB 2/3 de Avintes, FNAJ, FAJDP, are some of them.

Contact details
Organisation name Abrigo Seguro - Associação de Solidariedade Social
Street Rua 5 de Outubro, 1733
Postal code 4430-803
Town/city Vila Nova de Gaia
Country Portugal
Email address abrigoseguro@gmail.com
Telephone number + 351 122 784 520
Fax number +351 227 871 307

Last update: 15/02/2013