RETAILERS and other businesses in Via Sindicat, a main shopping street in central Palma are to put out a giant shopping basket between the 15th and 23rd December to collect non-perishable food donations for Catholic charity, Caritas, Palma City Council said yesterday
Social Welfare Councillor Eberhard Grosske explained that members of the public are invited to deposit their donations in the 3-metre long basket which will be handed over to the charity's Food Network just before Christmas. The goods will then be distributed to the most underprivileged families on the island to give them the chance of having a Christmas dinner they might otherwise not have enjoyed.
Grosske described the project as magnificent and said it enabled both the Council and ordinary people in Palma to show solidarity with those who were suffering as a result of the economic crisis. We want it to be a brighter Christmas for those without resources of their own, said Grosske. He continued by claiming that although local authorities were bound by law to guarantee minimum support for those in what he called socioeconomic difficulties, it frequently wasn't enough.
Grosske was nevertheless careful to stress that in theory, no-one ever need go hungry in Palma because there was a network of private and public organisations which made sure there was a safety network supply of basic foodstuffs.
Grosske acknowledged that there were families in the capital who didn't have money to buy food but gave assurances that those who are faced with destitution could always go to the Social Services department of the City Council or to the Caritas charity. The economic crisis has caused a real problem in Palma, claimed Grosske, but not to the extent that there is no response or solution to it. Caritas Director on Majorca, Toni Vera, said meanwhile that the charity was not a bottomless pit of resources and that it was the responsibility of both public and private institutions to find an answer to the crisis. He said that Caritas is providing help to between 40 and 60 people on a daily basis who need essential help.
Research showed that so far this year, 780 people have been receiving assistance from Caritas whilst last year the number was more than double - 1'770.
Vera said that the social class of people seeking assistance from charity was changing as a result of the crisis. In recent years, immigrants had been high on the agenda of the Caritas aid programme but currently there are more people from Majorca who are seeking help.
He added that though numbers of those approaching the charity this year have fallen, their personal circumstances are more serious. Such people, said Vera, are those who have been long-term unemployed and who are facing losing their emergency aid from the state in February.