Mar 17, 2021

Poverty has arrived in the middle of society

Food distribution (c)Caritas_Christian Leitner
Food distribution (c)Caritas_Christian Leitner

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, more and more people who never would have thought it possible have turned to Caritas. Corona has finally brought poverty to the center of society, says Michael Landau, President of Caritas Austria: "Many people who were able to provide for themselves well before the pandemic now fear for their livelihoods and are increasingly turning to Caritas for help. One million people are unemployed or on short-time work. We are experiencing a health crisis, but also an economic and social crisis, an educational and psychosocial crisis. We need to look at those who are having a particularly hard time now."

Unemployment and short-time work in particular are affecting many people, especially single parent households and large families. Two-thirds of the people visiting the Caritas social counseling centers are people with children, and a disproportionately large number of them are single parents, but also new self-employed people or one-person entrepreneurs. These are people whose incomes have been cut off by the crisis and who don't know how to pay rents or energy bills.

Direct support from Caritas in Austria

Most of Caritas’ Corona emergency aid is distributed through the 53 Austria-wide social counselling centers. They are the first point of contact for people affected by poverty, where they can receive concrete help in the form of financial assistance for covering rent or energy costs, support with the costs of schooling for their children, or, in a very pragmatic way, find out where the nearest Caritas food distribution point is. Additionally, in Upper Austria alone, around 1,260 adults and children received help in the form of cash and food assistance in 2020. In Salzburg, 4,000 food parcels (totalling 70tonns of food) were distributed and 7,500 additional overnight stays in emergency sleeping facilities were made possible. Further many Caritas emergency shelters for homeless people opened their doors 24 hours a day, providing a safe and protected place for people without shelter during the pandemic.

Our solidarity needs a long breath

"The health crisis of today must not become more and more the social crisis of tomorrow," appealed Caritas Austria and Caritas Europa President Michael Landau already in 2020. Looking at the increasing numbers of people contacting asking for Caritas support for the first time in their lives, that appeal still rings true.

The last twelve months have made it clear that our help requires a lot of patience and solidarity, because the virus and much more its consequences will keep us busy for even longer. We are not talking about days or weeks, but about months and years. We are not only talking about people who were already in crisis before the pandemic, but also about those who stood in the middle of society and are now facing new hardships.

I thank you for your support for people in need in these challenging times.

Food distribution (c)Caritas_Reiner Riedler
Food distribution (c)Caritas_Reiner Riedler
Food distribution2 (c)Caritas_Reiner Riedler
Food distribution2 (c)Caritas_Reiner Riedler

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Nov 13, 2020

Health crisis must not become a social crisis

Distribution of food packages (c)Christian Leitner
Distribution of food packages (c)Christian Leitner

Since March 2020, the Coronavirus and its health consequences have dominated everyday life in Austria. Since day 1 of the Corona crisis, we as Caritas have been working every day to ensure that the health crisis of today does not become the social crisis of tomorrow.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Austria were already affected by poverty before the corona crisis; the dramatic consequences of the pandemic, however, further increase the need. In our daily work, we increasingly encounter people who have never before been dependent on the help of Caritas, but now no longer know how to pay bills or put food on the table. Initial contacts in the Caritas social counselling centres (those people who turn to Caritas for the first time in their lives) have increased in a large part of Austria by about 40% compared to the same period last year – in Lower Austria it is even a 159% increase. This trend is alarming: the economic and social pressure increases significantly as the crisis continues and is already at the heart of our society.

Concrete help for the weaker members of our society
Most of Caritas’ Corona emergency aid is distributed through the 36 Austria-wide social counselling centers. They are the first point of contact for people affected by poverty, where they can receive concrete help in the form of financial assistance for covering rent or energy costs, support with the costs of schooling for their children, or, in a very pragmatic way, find out where the nearest Caritas food distribution point is. Between March and September 2020, around 30,500 people took advantage of this concrete help.

Those people who have already been affected by poverty before are of course particularly affected by the current corona crisis and its effects. Therefore the number of emergency sleeping places and day care centers has been increased enormously throughout Austria, so that even people without shelter have a safe place to stay during the pandemic that is spreading further and further. In Vienna alone, almost 80,000 overnight stays were registered between May and August 2020 (2019: 16,400 overnight stays).

Our solidarity needs a long breath
"The health crisis of today must not become more and more the social crisis of tomorrow," appeals Caritas Austria and Caritas Europa President Michael Landau. The last weeks have made it clear that our help requires a lot of patience because the virus and its consequences will keep us busy for even longer. We are not talking about days or weeks, but about months and years. We are not only talking about people who were already in crisis before the pandemic, but also about those who are now facing new hardships.

Thank you for your support for people in need in these challenging times.

Distribution of food packages (c)Christian Leitner
Distribution of food packages (c)Christian Leitner

Links:

Jul 17, 2020

Support for the weakest during the Corona crisis

Distribution of food packages (c)Reiner Riedler
Distribution of food packages (c)Reiner Riedler

We all feel the Corona crisis first hand. In total, more than 460,000 people throughout Austria are unemployed, additional 750,000 people are still put on short-time work as at the end of June 2020. Most of us can still help ourselves in these difficult times by our own efforts. But there are also many people in Austria - such as single parents, minimum pensioners, families with many children and unemployed people - who are urgently seeking help from Caritas because they are afraid that they will no longer be able to pay food or rent.

In Vienna alone, twice as many people in need have recently turned to Caritas, in Salzburg the number of people seeking help has almost tripled. Thanks to the support of our donors, Caritas can help quickly and unbureaucratically in the 36 social counselling centers throughout Austria.

In the period from March to the beginning of June, Caritas supported more than 11,500 people and their families to overcome the Corona crisis. Almost 33,000 meals were provided in addition to the existing Caritas offers. In total, more than 100 tons of foods were distributed in the form of food packages to people in need all over Austria.

Our solidarity needs a long breath

"Today's health crisis must not become more and more the social crisis of tomorrow," Caritas Austria and Caritas Europe president Michael Landau appeals. While food and hygiene products are currently the most in demand, heating and rental costs are likely to be the next items on the agenda.

The past few weeks have made it clear that our help will need a lot of patience. Because the virus and its consequences will keep us busy for even longer. We are not talking about days or weeks, but months and years. We are not only talking about people who were already in crisis before the pandemic, but also about those who are now facing new hardship.

Thank you for your support for people in need during these difficult times.

Distribution of food packages (c)Reiner Riedler
Distribution of food packages (c)Reiner Riedler

Links:

 
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