Spanish Red Cross seeks funds for domestic crisis

Wed, Oct 10, 2012, 01:00

A FATHER of two reaches into a fridge but it is empty except for one egg. That is all he has to feed his two children, who sit at the kitchen table of a dingy flat.

This is a scene from an ad for a new fundraising campaign by Spain’s Red Cross. But unlike other, similar, campaigns Spaniards have seen on their screens in the past, this one does not aim to help earthquake victims in Haiti or hungry Africans, but rather those affected by Spain’s own economic crisis.

“More people than you would imagine need help in our own country,” says the voiceover.

The campaign, called “Now More Than Ever”, is the first by the Spanish Red Cross in which it has sought to raise funds for what it sees as a national emergency rather than one beyond its borders. The charity wants to generate €30 million to offer food, shelter and medical support to 300,000 people who are highly vulnerable due to the crisis. It currently offers support to two million people in Spain.

Today, the campaign will front the organisation’s Flag Day celebrations, when the Red Cross goes out onto the streets of Spain to educate people about its work and raise funds. Celebrities and members of the royal family have been recruited to take part in this year’s events. “It’s a very serious situation and things are getting worse,” said José Javier Sánchez Espinosa of the Spanish Red Cross’s social inclusion department.

“The big problem is unemployment – five million people are jobless – and in more and more families we’re seeing one or more people out of work.”

Spain has Europe’s highest jobless rate at 25 per cent, and the figure for young people is 53 per cent. Families with no earner, the homeless and the elderly will all benefit from the campaign.

The Red Cross says a quarter of Spanish households cannot afford to eat protein more than three times a week and almost half of households will be unable to heat their homes properly this winter.

Until relatively recently, Spain’s large immigrant population received much of the Red Cross’s attention. But as the recession has bitten, the profile of those requiring help has changed. Mr Sánchez Espinosa said many Spaniards who previously could rely on family support were now unable to. Therefore they increasingly turned to the charity for help and many beneficiaries were former members of the middle class.

Forecasts issued by the IMF yesterday suggest the economy will not recover soon. It expects unemployment to increase slightly to just over 25 per cent next year and the economy to shrink 1.3 per cent.