On the occasion of World Social Justice Day February 20, Catholic Church charity Caritas Europa presented its new ‘Caritas Cares’ 2019 report on poverty and inequality in Europe, in which it found that barriers to access to basic services are the main factor in increasing poverty.

Full text of the Caritas press release:

We are now three years on a waiting list for social housing. In the meantime, we rent a small apartment that is actually too small and too expensive for us. We have two bedrooms; our three children sleep altogether in one room. We have no money left at the end of the month. Our children are suffering from this situation, but there’s nothing we can do other than wait.

Elsie, 34, married to Johan and mother of three children aged 8, 5 and 3 years, Belgium

Caritas organisations are essential actors in lifting people out of poverty, combating social exclusion and promoting social justice. They do so by assisting and providing services to people in need, as well as by addressing unfair structures, policies and measures.

This European report focuses on the availability, accessibility, affordability and adequacy of services to people experiencing poverty and the promotion of social inclusion in European countries.

Caritas member organisations in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Cyprus, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia, and Slovenia have analysed and described access to three services common to all (public employment services, housing policies and early childhood education and care services) and two services deemed particularly relevant in their countries.

This report thus attempts to identify concrete causes of non-access to services by people in the most vulnerable or precarious situations in our societies.

People experiencing poverty seem to face bigger difficulties accessing services than the ‘average’ citizens.

When they do have access, the support the service provides is less helpful to them because the offer is standardised and oriented towards the ‘average’ citizens instead of adapted to the specific needs of people facing hardship.

The report formulates a set of recommendations for the EU to address these challenges and to increase the positive impact of service provision, also to the most deprived members of our societies.

See the 16 country reports, which are the basis for this European report.

(Source: Caritas)

Full text of the Caritas report:

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Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.