The Cáritas network, in over 150 churches in the province, helps people in every town and village. Its director, Francisco José Sánchez Heras, says the number of requests for help shot up immediately, and the association is assisting three main groups: "Those we were already giving a hand to before the pandemic, others who have never come before and some who received help during the economic crisis, then stopped and have now had to come back," he says.
The situation is causing "a great deal of suffering", especially for workers who were already unable to make ends meet even though they had a job. "We have seen that many people were living in a subsistence economy, from domestic staff to professionals in the construction industry or tourism, workers who were paid cash in hand and people who were involved in marginal activities, such as collecting scrap metal".
Sánchez Heras says assistance from non-profit-making associations has saved many families so far: "There hasn't been a social uprising and that is because of the work of the associations who have responded to an emergency, but people need to receive their assistance from the State and employment needs to be reactivated because we have fragile integration mechanisms and part of the population is living at risk of exclusion," he says.
Cáritas also highlights the role of many women who were working "cleaning houses and looking after children or elderly people because the husband was out of work, and now they have ended up with no income at all". Their lives have been put on hold.