"In the Municipality of Leiria we recognise the important contribution that the population of foreign origin, more than six thousand people, gives to the development and creation of wealth for this region, and we wish that our county can be seen as a definitive option of residence", said the Mayor of Leiria, Gonçalo Lopes.

The 117th CLAIM inaugurated by the Government in the whole country will contribute to guarantee a "proximity approach and to clarify doubts", said the Secretary of State for Integration and Migration, Cláudia Pereira.

The official revealed that in Leiria there are 90 different nationalities and 40 percent of the immigrants are Brazilian.

"Foreigners represent 5 percent of the resident population in Leiria and CLAIM will ensure the rights of migrant populations", she underlined, informing that CLAIM has already attended "one million consultations" since its creation.

Working with a technician, the CLAIM of Leiria will always have the support of the High Commission for Migrations to clarify doubts and provide training on the legislation.

"The great advantage is to have a proximity approach. You can clarify doubts about the SEF [Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras] documentation, about family reunification, to bring your relatives or about how to have a housing and work contract", said Cláudia Pereira, highlighting the importance of CLAIM functioning within the City Hall premises, as "this is where the Portuguese and the migrants go".

For the Secretary of State, "having this centre changes the life of a migrant".

Considering that to receive a CLAIM in Leiria is "a step in the commitment assumed by the Municipality of Leiria in the construction of a territory full of equality", Gonçalo Lopes defended a "deepening of the support mechanisms to the migrant population that is in a situation of special vulnerability in face of the pandemic context that tends to accentuate the social imbalances and inequalities".

It was with this population in mind that the Municipality of Leiria changed the regulation of the Municipal Social Emergency Fund, in order to "cover the entire migrant community, even the recently resident one, so as to provide support to people who suddenly lost their sources of income", added Gonçalo Lopes.

Now with 117 spaces all over the country, the CLAIMs are a service of the High Commission for Migrations, in partnership with various municipal or civil society entities, which aim to support the whole process of reception and integration of migrants, while promoting interculturality at local level.

The Social Development Councillor, Ana Valentim, explained that CLAIM in Leiria will have a full time technician in the social area who has already had training with the High Commission for Migrations.

"We will articulate with other local associations that already work with this population and we will initiate contacts next week. The goal is to have our CLAIM functioning next Monday or Tuesday", revealed Ana Valentim.