Coronavirus crisis highlights need: Caritas steps up assistance for people experiencing poverty

The coronavirus crisis has increased the need for support services provided by Caritas. Caritas Switzerland and the Regional Caritas Organisations are therefore strengthening their assistance in various areas. They are expanding their support in individual cases of people in acute emergencies, increasingly supplement their social counselling with advice on legal issues and promote digital access for people in poverty.

Since the spring of 2020 Caritas has, with financial support from donations, funding from Swiss Solidarity, and thanks to many other supporters, helped more than 20,000 people with one-off direct payments. During this time, Caritas has provided social counselling to 13,000 people or referred them to other institutions. More than 100,000 people received support for their specific needs in 70 regional or nationwide projects, Caritas Switzerland and the Regional Caritas Organisations have committed 19 million Swiss francs for this help, of which 9,85 million francs were contributed by Swiss Solidarity. 

More individual assistance

The coronavirus crisis has shown how important it is that, in the context of the social counselling offered by the Regional Caritas Organisation, uncomplicated financial assistance can be provided. Families or single parents often face acute emergency situations and need help to overcome them. Caritas is therefore expanding the individual assistance it already provided before the crisis. This is made available if there is no entitlement to state aid or it cannot be claimed in time. Individual assistance is always part of social counselling, which identifies ways of long-term and sustainable solutions. 

It also became clear in the last two years that many people with little money are not aware of their rights and entitlement to state support services or are unable to claim them. Ever more frequently, those affected need legal assistance. In the coming months, Caritas will strengthen its social counselling services so they can provide effective support in legal matters too. 

Improve access to the digital world 

Many people seeking help have no access to the digital world. Especially in the current crisis, in which some services are only accessible online, and where people increasingly have to work from home, digital skills are essential. With its digital literacy meeting points run by the Regional Caritas Organisations, Caritas offers easy access to the digital world.

With these expansion measures, Caritas wants to ensure that it can continue to respond quickly and effectively to the growing need of people seeking assistance. In this endeavour, it can count on the increased awareness of the problem of poverty among private donors, institutions and companies. 

Header image: To support people in social emergencies, Caritas is strengthening its social counselling and financial assistance. © Thomas Plain