Setubal, Portugal, June 2016 – On the occasion of the General Assembly held in Setubal (Portugal) on 27 and 28 June, the municipality organised a series of field visits to show participants some of the projects it has implemented concerning senior citizens, urban planning and civil protection. Around 40 participants representing 38 local and regional authorities and national Forums, from 12 different countries took part.
‘Senior Patrollers’ to watch over parks and public areas
Visit of Albarquel Park and presentation of the Senior Patrollers project by José Pereira, Head of the Department of Sports of the municipality of Setubal.
The Senior Patrollers project has two objectives: to encourage citizens to respect and care for their local facilities and green areas, and to encourage senior citizens to actively participate in the life of their community. This programme is focused on the parks and public areas around the main street of Setubal, Avenida Luisa Todi.
A tripartite agreement was concluded between the City, the Union of Setubal Parishes, and the Social Wellness Centre’s Association of Pensioners and Senior Citizens to recruit three dozen senior citizens who patrol in these areas, talk to the public and encourage citizens to share responsibly the city’s public spaces and parks. There are now 30 ‘Senior Patrollers’ deployed in Setubal, including 14 working in the city’s main park, Albarquel Park.
Civil Protection plan for Setubal’s historic centre
In order to protect the population and the heritage sites in Setubal’s historic centre against natural, technological and human disasters, the Civil Protection and Fire Brigade prepared an intervention plan tailor made to the needs of this area. The plan includes the implementation of surveys, a safety audit, local emergency plans, and complementary research activities. Furthermore, information points for citizens have been set up, as well as 11 physical meeting points where citizens can gather in case of emergency, which are connected with the civil protection monitoring centre.
Citizen participation in social estates
The ‘Our Neighbourhood, Our Town’ project is promoted by the municipality in five social housing estates in a neighbourhood called Bela Vista. Based on the idea that residents should be able to participate in the decisions that concern their neighbourhood, the project is a democratic exercise aimed at empowering residents, promoting participation and diffusing tensions and conflict, thus improving the climate and environment of the neighbourhood.
The project includes five lines of action that were agreed with the residents in a participatory process. Respect, trust and citizen participation are crucial for the success of the programme.
After the third presentation, there was a questions/answers session. Participants were particularly interested in how this interesting project started and how dialogue was established with the local communities.
The debate focused on citizen participation as both projects – Senior Patrollers and ‟Our Neighbourhood, Our City” are based on community involvement in the city’s life.