The Portuguese Refugee Council’s receptioncentre can accommodate up to 42 asylum seekers,resettled refugees and unaccompanied minorsfor a maximum of six months. Residents are provided with shared rooms and bathrooms,with separate areas for men, women, families and unaccompanied minors plus one roomadapted for disabled access. For the first five days residents receive their meals in a nearby restaurant. After this they receive a weekly allowance of €40 and are able to buy and cook for themselves in the shared kitchen. Residents also benefit from telephone cards, internet access and transportation cards valid in Lisbon City and around the centre. In the reception centre, there is a multidisciplinary team which provides services. Refugees
have access to:
- Legal, employment and educational advice;
- Interpreters on site and volunteer cultural mediators;
- Portuguese language course – an initial 100 hours;
- Visits to museums, historical monuments, companies and sports competitions;
- Internet Point;
- Clothes Distribution;
- Laundry Services.
The centre does not provide healthcare in-house, but residents are registered with the National Health Service and receive healthcare from public and private health services. Refugees suffering from psychological problems have access to CAVITOP, an NGO that provides psychological and psychiatric support.
In the light of needs identified within the community – by a development committee- the reception centre includes the following amenities which are used by both the residents of the centre and the local community: a kindergarten run by CPR and attended by 77 children, from the local and refugee community; an auditorium and a library (featuring information related to refugee issues) and employment support services.Local residents have become more welcoming to the refugees, since they have direct contact with them and enjoy the benefits that the centre has brought them. This support is evidenced in the growing donations of clothes and food.
Finding housing for those leaving the reception centre is very difficult, with little suitable low-cost housing available. Resettled refugees usually stay in Lisbon, as it is close to the centre. Some refugees would prefer to live in a rural area but have found the move too difficult. It has also been difficult to promote the participation of municipalities and employers outside of the Lisbon area.