The unprecedented health crisis we are facing right now forces each of our countries to take drastic measures to ensure the security of populations, leaving the most precarious among us behind. Those who live on the street, in temporary accommodation (social hotels), makeshift (squats, shantytowns...) or without resources are without a protection solution in the face of this pandemic.
Major operation already launched: the distribution of service vouchers
While the collective distribution of meals is difficult to organize in satisfactory sanitary conditions, the use of service vouchers is one of the preferred actions at first, to maintain dignified access for people in difficulty to essential products of their choice (food and hygiene products). A service voucher is like a currency, it allows the person who has it to pay for his groceries in the supermarkets according to the face value (written above) of the allocated voucher.
The delivery of service vouchers is the best way to respond now to this emergency while minimizing contact and therefore the risk of spreading the epidemic.
A first shared order for the entire network was placed on Friday March 20 and can be reiterated as needed. This first order is worth 2.5 million euros, or 50,000 service voucher books ordered.
This action is coupled with a plea to the public authorities for a broader mobilization.
A call for donations was launched to the general public to finance this operation and all those that will be born in the network in the coming days, to meet the needs that will be felt in compliance with the safety rules in force. Our other supporters are also solicited, philanthropists, businesses, foundations and religious communities, because this crisis is major and will last. This initial fund will not be enough to meet all needs.
Allocation of vouchers: to whom are we distributing?
The ordered notebooks consist of 5 vouchers, for a total value of € 50: 1 voucher for € 20, 2 for € 10 and 2 for € 5. Vouchers can be distributed independently.
They are allocated according to the aid policies of each delegation, but taking into account the crisis context and the situation of each person or household. This invites to allocate significant amounts, allowing to meet needs for 2 weeks, rather than multiplying trips.
The vouchers’ distribution must be done in strict compliance with the conditions of a "secure action", defined by Secours Catholique in the following terms:
Deposit in an envelope, on the doorstep, in the mailbox. Accompany the delivery by a phone call before and after. Exceptionally and only under the condition of a system piloted by the public authorities, and after validation internally by a security committee, the reversal is possible in collective places of squat or slum type, in strict compliance with health guidelines.
Individual distribution, during a reception, by appointment: a distribution method as a last resort. In this context, the reception must be individual, the space and the conditions of reception must be arranged to ensure compliance with the rules of social distancing
Service voucher orders: pooling by the headquarters of the delegation
A centralized national order for notebooks (value of € 50) for their availability to delegations who wish.
The delivery is made directly by the provider (its carriers) to the teams or places designated by each delegation (several places possible).
Each delegation makes a request according to its stocks already available and the needs identified in its territory. A first order was offered on March 21 for delivery between March 25 and 28, 2020. Others can be made in the coming weeks as needed
For a broader mobilization
Recommendations have been made to the public authorities so that service vouchers can be an answer in this emergency situation:
Ensuring the increase of their distribution by the CCAS (Central Social activities Funds); authorize the extension of existing public markets or simplify the public market procedure for those who do not have it through derogatory procedures or by allowing the CCAS to make local agreements with local signs / small traders, in particular in areas rural.
Ensuring that all the retailers (large distributors and small traders) accept service vouchers: coverage of agreement costs by the State (linked to management fees for entry into the accounting system).
Allow businesses to make change on service vouchers, because today this is not possible.
Other actions will follow:
Our volunteers, who are very committed, are already looking at all the actions that can be taken under conditions of optimal safety for the public, for volunteers and employees. We are in the process of imagining new forms of support for these very fragile audiences.
Because everyone at home does not mean everyone for themselves, let us remain fraternal in the face of this major crisis.