Hard-hit Spaniards more generous than ever

Hard-hit Spaniards more generous than ever
Former naval engineer Carmelo sits on the street begging for money to supplement his pension in a bid to survive economically in Malaga in June. File photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP

Spain's important Catholic charity Caritas helped more people than ever in 2013, thanks largely to more donations from private individuals and an ever growing army of volunteers the organization said.


Top charity Caritas provided assistance to 2,513,563 in Spain in 2013, up from 1.904.737 a year earlier. The number of people the charity helped last year was also up 578 percent on 2007, or before the economic crisis ravaged Spain.

But the figures from the charity's latest annual report don't necessarily represent an increase in hardship in Spain, where unemployment remains at a painful 24 percent.

Instead, Caritas, which provides a wide range of services, stressed it had been able to help more people because of the increased impact of private donations, and the higher number of new volunteers giving their time to Spaniards in need.

While the government's contribution to Caritas fell from just over €87 million ($110 million) in 2009 to around €73 million in 2013, private donations — which make up 75 percent of the charity's income stream — have continued to climb.

These have risen from just over €200 million to €291 million since 2007.

The number of Caritas volunteers has also soared in recent years — from 56,470 in 2007 to 78,017 last year. The number of people helping out for free climbed 10 percent in 2013 alone.

The "economic causes of inequality" had to be denounced said Caritas president Sebastián Mora on the release of the report on Monday, calling for a society where "heath, social justice, education, and housing are guaranteed for everyone.

He also called for the construction of an economy which put people first and didn't neglect the poorest. Everyone deserved a decent job, Mora added.

Caritas helped over 5 million people worldwide in 2013. That assistance included housing and food, help with job hunting, and aid for older people among others.



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