Covid-19 forces thousands to seek charity hand-outs
More needy residents apply to Caritas Macau which also extends a lifeline to blue card holders, many of whom have lost their jobs and have few other means of support.
More than 4,000 residents have sought hand-outs from Caritas Macau’s food bank, while 1,600 non-resident workers have used the charity’s Covid-19 subsidy programme.
The charity’s Secretary-General Paul Pun Chi Meng said that Caritas Macau’s food bank is a government-subsidised programme which has been set up for residents who are unemployed or in need of financial support. Residents, but not non-resident workers, can sign up for a 10-week programme to receive assistance worth MOP 40 a day.
More than 4,600 residents, a third of whom were new recipients, were helped by the food bank last year, an 11 per cent increase compared to 2019, The Macau Post Daily reported. Pun, a veteran social worker, noted that in the first quarter of this year, 1,075 residents sought hand-outs from the food bank, and some 15 per cent of them were newcomers.
Pun said that during the pandemic many non-resident workers, informally known as blue card holders, lost their jobs and are now in dire straits, so Caritas Macau set up its Covid-19 subsidy programme to collect essential items for non-resident workers and their infants.
In an overwhelming response, people donated cash, babies’ clothing, milk, facemasks, food vouchers, tinned food, eggs and other items. noted that while residents receive assistance worth MOP 40 per day from the food bank, non-resident workers can only receive assistance worth MOP 20-30 per day from Caritas Macau, and if the non-resident worker is not unemployed, he or she can only get goods that are close to the end of their shelf life.
Pun said he was grateful that within the past three days more than 400 residents donated essential items for blue card holders. He also noted that in 2019 almost no non-resident workers had sought Caritas Macau’s help, yet in 2020 1,600 of them asked for assistance, 400 of whom became regulars.