Marbella sends out emergency call for help as homeless numbers increase

Marbella sends out emergency call for help as homeless numbers increase
  • The NGO has called for donations of sleeping bags, mats and waterproofs to help the homeless through the cold temperatures this winter

The local branch of the Red Cross in Marbella (Cruz Roja) has launched an appeal for help due to an increase in the numbers of homeless in the town. The organisation offers on-the-spot help to people sleeping rough in the streets with its Intemperie programme, through which volunteers take aid in the form of food and warm clothing.

Since the middle of October the number people requiring this type of help has doubled, to 40, with no apparent explanation.

In its appeal for help the Red Cross has called for donations of sleeping bags, sleeping mats and waterproofs, the items needed most urgently. Hats, gloves and scarves are also wanted.

Julián García, the president of the Cruz Roja in Marbella, said: “We need warm clothes to give out to these people. Sleeping bags, mats and rain jackets. Now at Christmas, we get a lot of offers of food and toys, but bringing these other materials is a magnificent way to collaborate.”

García is in permanent contact with the local Social Services Department, says that the only explanation he can think of for the increase is the closure of a shelter for the homeless in a neighbouring province.

The volunteers go out into the streets twice a week offering help to whoever needs it. They estimate that the average age of a homeless person in Marbella is between 45 and 50. However there are cases of homeless people over the age of 80, they say, who are particularly vulnerable in the cold weather.

The Social Welfare Department has been offering eight beds in the África youth hostel where the Cruz Roja has been referring those with “an urgent need to sleep in a room”. This agreement, however came to an end on Monday as the hostel closed its doors until January.

The local authority is currently looking for an alternative location to fill this gap.

“There are 40 people in the street right now and our aim is to provide a little bit of comfort while the town hall looks for a provisional shelter,” said García.

Anyone wishing to collaborate can contact the Cruz Roja by email or call 952 861688.