Lisbon, February 15, 2021 (Lusa) – The project “Vizinhos à Janela”, a neighborhood initiative to combat isolation and loneliness during confinement due to the covid-19 pandemic, received today the “Civil Solidarity” award from the Economic and European Social Fund (EESC).
In a statement, the Committee added that it attributed the CESE Prize for Civil Solidarity to “Neighbors at the window”, in the “cultural offerings” category, noting that the “project was a brilliant example of remarkable civic responsibility and solidarity during the crisis of the covid- 19 ”.
The EESC, an advisory body representing European civil society at the level of the European Union, selected “Vizinhos à Janela” as the best Portuguese candidate for the Prize, “due to the aggregating strength of its music, it helped to transform a simple neighborhood into a true community of mutual assistance ”.
“Vizinhos à Janela” was announced as one of the 23 laureates in a virtual award ceremony held today by the EESC. Each winner received a prize of 10,000 euros.
The project received the award in the category of “cultural offers, a category that grouped projects” that played a fundamental role in mitigating the effects of the pandemic, in various creative and original ways “.
Last year during the first confinement, a group of neighbors came together to alleviate the loneliness of home life.
Twice a day, at 2 pm and 8 pm, residents of Rua Belo Horizonte “Jardim dos Arcos”, in Oeiras, in the Lisbon district, played music from their balconies and windows for 10 minutes, until the end of July 2020. Four other nearby streets have also joined the initiative.
“These brief outbursts of culture and connection brought some relief and regularity to disturbed routines, and provided strength and joy to the people who lived in the neighborhood,” says the EESC.
Doctors, nurses, policemen and cantoniers visited the street and received a musical tribute in recognition of their work, after which the Oeiras City Council contacted the residents inviting them to take advantage of the spirit of solidarity to collect food for the most needy.
Each building on the street appointed someone to collect supplies from neighbors, who were then handed over to various associations working with vulnerable groups. Local businesses, grocery stores and restaurants also contributed with groceries.
“On average, 700 articles were donated per week, and several residents started volunteering activities, on a permanent basis, together with these associations. At this moment, food aid has already reached six tons ”, highlights the EESC.
“We give so little and we receive so much … This enormous appreciation gives us much more strength to continue in the struggle and help the most needy, and give a real meaning to the phrase:” Help to help “, said the project coordinator Íñigo Hurtado, a Catalan living in Portugal for over 30 years, quoted in the note.
In the delivery of the prizes, the EESC vice-president responsible for Communication, Cillian Lohan, said that “all the projects received are proof of the altruistic commitment of citizens and the local level, which proves that the contribution of civil society in this struggle is huge”
The prizes were awarded to winning entries from 21 countries in the European Union.
The winners were selected from a total of 250 applications submitted by civil society organizations, individuals and private companies. All projects were based on solidarity and presented creative and effective ways to face the often frightening challenges created by the crisis.
Most of the projects targeted vulnerable groups or the people most affected by the crisis, such as the elderly or young people, children, women, minorities, migrants, homeless people, medical staff, workers and employers.
The EESC launched the award in July 2020 under the theme “Civil society against COVID-19”, announcing that it would be an exceptional single edition award, replacing the usual CESE Award for Civil Society.
According to the Committee, the objective was to pay homage to European civil society, which has engaged actively and unselfishly in acts of solidarity since the early days of the pandemic.
DD // SB