Caritas has assisted more than half a million new people this year.

The data presented today by Caritas Spain reflect the harsh consequences of business closures, layoffs and the exacerbation of previous situations of vulnerability and poverty with the Covid19 pandemic.

Maria José Atienza-March 9, 2021-Reading time: 4 minutes

Photo credit: Brandon Green/ Unsplash

One out of every three people who have come to Caritas since the beginning of the pandemic was new to this situation or had not sought help for more than a year. These are the first figures of the crisis caused by Covid 19 in the economy of millions of families in our country. This is what the president and the general secretary of Caritas have stated, Manuel Breton y Natalia Peirowho, together with the coordinator of the Study Team, Raul FloresThe Diocesan Caritas of the Philippines, have presented a report with detailed data on the actions carried out since March 2020 by all 70 Diocesan Caritas in the country.

The Caritas response in Spain

Natalia Peiro highlighted the impact that "the restrictions on mobility and the worsening living conditions of the population" had on the state network of resources for shelter and assistance. "Only in the first months of the pandemic - the Caritas secretary pointed out - the requests for help received by Caritas throughout Spain increased by 57% and there were periods and certain territorial areas in which many Caritas saw their requests for help triple".

This situation has forced Caritas to reinvent itself and to focus its response to Covid on three specific aspects:

  • Maintain support for families with whom we were already working, and whose situation has worsened with this crisis.
  • To accompany families who come to us for the first time because of the precariousness of this reality.
  • Adapt the action of volunteers and contractors to the new situation imposed by the social distancing to guarantee the accompaniment of people who demand Caritas' support.

In addition to this, Caritas activated an Accompaniment 2.0 based on the multiplication of telephone listening and the use of digital connection applications, school support or telematic Spanish classes, the use of economic transfers to replace in-kind aid or the online reception of documentation. The aim is to ensure follow-up in personalized accompaniment, incorporating prevention and security measures, and during the weeks of confinement, as well as to advance in the dignification of the right to food, encouraging the use of solidarity cards; and support at home.

"Caritas in the face of the Coronavirus".

Likewise, in this press conference, they have recognized the explosion of solidarity that the Spanish society showed from the beginning, and that has manifested itself in a very intense way since the launching, on March 14, 2020, of the campaign "Caritas before the Coronavirus". A campaign that has resulted in 70,666 donorswhose contributions have added up to 65 million euros. Of these funds, 34.5 million euros came from 67,094 individual donors and 30.3 million from a total of 3,572 companies and institutions. Of the 65 million raised, 6.5 million were donations in kind.

How they have been invested

In terms of economic investment to meet the needs of the pandemic, the Caritas Confederation in Spain has mobilized these economic items:

– 41,163,068 euros to direct aidThe families accompanied have been able to cover some of their basic needs, such as food, hygiene, housing and utilities.

– 991,963 euros for sanitary and protective materialsThe program is designed for the families served as well as for our staff and for the centers and direct care facilities.

– 1,014,634 euros for the hiring of reinforcement personnel for those projects that have been overwhelmed.

– 3,307,160 euros in support for children. Within this chapter, answers have been given to the special needs of families with children and adolescents, where, together with the basic material demands (added to those that already existed previously due to the loss of many jobs), others arise from the distance management of the school year, such as the need for equipment and Internet access, or distance school support, for example.

– 2,444,290 euros to meet the needs of international action. Cáritas Española has supported a total of 65 projects, which have been supported with funds provided by more than half of the Diocesan Caritas of our country.

Households with no income

As Raúl Flores pointed out, based on data from the latest Report of the Observatorio de la Realidad Social de Cáritas Española (Observatory of the Social Reality of Cáritas Española)As a result, 258,000 people accompanied by Caritas live in households with no income at all; that is, 75,000 more people than before the beginning of this crisis. This means that more than 825,000 people accompanied by Caritas are in a situation of severe poverty. Many households are unable to meet the cost of utilities in their homes and 161,000 families (about 77,000) have been forced to change their residence to reduce expenses.

Homeless and lonely people

Loneliness has been another of the dramas imposed by the pandemic, a reality that has been hardened by forced isolation and limited movement, especially in the case of the elderly and their caregivers, whether employees or family members.

Before the pandemic, Caritas already had 29 residential centers, 12 day care centers, 2 group homes, 4 supervised apartments, and more than 4 assisted living units and/or apartments. In addition, the Confederation has 30 home accompaniment programs, both in urban and rural areas. Altogether, this means a total of more than 7,000 elderly people accompanied by Caritas. Thanks to the collaboration of many people, it has been possible to increase significantly in all these months the number of accompanied elderly people, reaching almost 11,000 at the moment.

The impact of Covid has also been tremendously costly for the homeless. The pandemic has made access to sanitation and/or isolation even more difficult. Sleeping on the streets or staying in temporary or emergency shelters has also exposed homeless people, an already medically high-risk population, to a high risk of transmitting the virus. A reality that became evident last November in the Homelessness Campaign.

In this line, the pandemic has forced to diversify the response to the needs of these people to, among other measures, adapt shelter and housing resources, and provide them with more flexible hours; adapt and rehabilitate spaces to accommodate the homeless. In fact, during these months Caritas has set up 13 new centers and more than 1,400 new places for homeless people.

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