Organisation : CRESCER Na Maior - Associação de intervenção comunitária , Portugal

É UM RESTAURANTE is a social business which main objective is to integrate in the labour market people who have experienced homelessness.

We have created a casual-fine-dining restaurant in the center of Lisbon, where the service is guaranteed by people who used to experience a homeless condition.

Beneficiaries are trained in social and technical skills and are integrated at an on-the-job training in the Restaurant for a 6-month period. After that the trainees do an internship at one of our partners' restaurants, so a new group of trainees can integrate the restaurant.

Agendas addressed
Social inclusion and integration
Pathways followed
  • Promote social innovation supporting inclusion
  • Create and close local value chains
Apetizers served at É UM RESTAURANTE @Arlindo Camacho

According to the latest data presented by the Lisbon City Council (2019) it is estimated that there are 2473 homeless people in the streets of Lisbon, 361 out of them living in temporary shelters.

There is a stigma that these people do not want to work or do not have the necessary skills, continuing forever in the condition of homelessness and with assistance responses that do not create real autonomy and inclusion in the community. This project has combated this stigma, and has managed to involve several public and private partners and today it has integrated several people into the job market, with proved improvements in their health and social conditions. After our project, a public and private policy for including these audiences in the labor market begins to emerge.

In Action
Restaurant space @Arlindo Camacho

This initiative is completely innovative. Through É UM RESTAURANTE (which means: "It's a restaurant" in Portuguese) we have settled the basis for a tailored-made response aiming the integration in the labour market of people living in vulnerable conditions. We also demonstrated that if the answer is implemented with the right and complementary partnership, putting together professionals from employment services with social workers that know well the public, this can lead to a real integrative answer. And moreover, the provided answer will be in the long term.

In this project we put together the knowledge from a community-based intervention NGO (CRESCER) local public entity (Lisbon City Hall), and national entity (Social Security & Employment Center) to create a new model. It was also essential for this project, the partnership with a Portuguese well-known Chef, and Lisbon School of Tourism, that would bring to the project the necessary and complementary known-how in the restoration sector to make it succeed. In total, a network of 29 partners from different fields, and that provide different types of support (technical, financial, in goods, etc) is associated to the project.

The Lisbon City Hall president after visiting the project announced that he would create 200 jobs at the City Hall to integrate these audiences; CRESCER has been encouraged by other local partners to open new social businesses in the city. The project has received the support of the Minister of Social Security of Portugal, Ana Mendes Godinho, who said about our project: “É UM RESTAURANTE proposes new ways to integrate people who experienced homelessness in the labour market”, “The project has a very innovative character due to its methodology and contributes to the achievement of several UNSDG”,  “It provides an answer to all the people that tried different solutions and never fitted in”. The President of City Hall, Fernando Medina, commented on our project: “…the importance of this project for the city and for those in need”. We also received the support from Portuguese President.

47 people have been integrated in the project. They are now in their pathways towards a real inclusion in the community thanks to a  constant support from the project team, and the work of a psychologist, that supports the trainees in all their needs, beyond the employment (social, health, personal).

Link to project presentation in the framework of a Co-Production Forum where we participated together with Lisbon City Hall: 


Results of the project:

  • 47 people have been integrated into the project
  • 21 people have received dental treatments;
  • Any of the people integrated in the project is no longer sleeping in the streets
  • 5 people passed from living in shelters to living in individual rooms
  • 22 people joined specialty consultations;
  • 5 people started to have social support;
  • 5 people integrated the labor market (even in the times of COVID19)
  • 25h of basic and relational skills training provided for each class
  • 75h of professional skills training provided for each class
  • 600 hours of on-the-job training provided for each class
  • 29 partnerships established with national, international, public and private partners, as well as entities in the restoration sector.

During this first period of the project, we found that most trainees are more organized and have greater hope for their future, with the progress they have achieved. Most of them have gained a lot of autonomy, in addition to the technical skills required for the work in restoration. Also, an improvement in the trainees' self-esteem was verified, which can be verified through their testimonies:

  • “It hasn't been easy, but we did it, which is the most important thing. And for the future, things will go even better”
  • "I am not in a very stable situation, but everything will be resolved. I like working here, I am learning, it is a start. Many people have helped me, they are part of my journey and I know I can count on them",

Regarding the “business” aspect, we received very good reviews from customers, in person and through comments on social networks and other platforms where the restaurant is present, such as Trip Advisor, Zoomato, among others.


This project already represents a complement to local public policies. É UM RESTAURANTE was designed in partnership with public authorities to provide an alternative and innovative response to a vulnerable population. The training provided by the project is tailor-made training, designed in partnership with the Employment and Vocational Training Institute (IEFP) and duly accredited, which allows not only providing an adapted response to a target audience in a situation of fragility, but also to give professional recognition to training by obtaining credits.

This project impacts the lives of the participants since it is adapted to their needs. We start by asking them what they need and how the project can help. We provide support during the whole process, in different areas, such as psychological, housing, food, cloths and any other support they may need. 2 Chefs work with the trainees at the restaurant, not only in technical aspects, but also helping them improve behavior, respecting colleagues, time tables, and taking responsibilities. A psychologist provides support to deal with all other issues that the trainee needs, and articulates with health and social structures for this purpose.

So far 47 people have been integrated into the project, and 5 people already integrated in the labour market (even during COVID time). Since the start we verified higher rates of autonomy among the target audience, increasing self-esteem, ameliorated presentation, a more polite interaction with peers, among others. Most of the participants adhere now to social and health existing responses and treat pending issues.

The project is subject to a continuous monitoring process, from the moment of its implementation, using qualitative and quantitative indicators. In an initial phase, the assessment focuses on the general, specific objectives and indicators defined in the project.

Challenges and lessons learned

Today we think that in addition to having a psychologist in the project, it would also be very important to have a social worker, since there is a huge psychological and social work parallel to the employment issues.

It is important also to have strong partners so that in a crisis like the one we are facing, the project can continue to work and face the enormous challenge of integrating people in the labour market, even during COVID-19 times and all thar it implies in terms of having access to new jobs.  

Project Presentation
Qualitative Assessment


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