Italian Caritas, since the early days of the COVID-19 emergency, has intensified its contact with and coordination of the 218 diocesan Caritas in Italy.
A first national survey, conducted from 9 to 24 April, made it possible to photograph the changes in needs, weaknesses and requests addressed to the Caritas listening centers and services, amid the impact of the coronavirus. The data is taken from 101 diocesan Caritas, equal to 46% of the total.
The figures confirm a doubling of the number of people who have turned to diocesan Caritas for the first time during the days of the pandemic.
The demand for basic necessities, food, meals at home, second-hand stores, canteens and clothing is growing, as are requests for economic aid for the payment of bills and rent.
At the same time, the need for listening, psychological support, companionship and help with bureaucratic processes is also increasing.
A comforting figure is the involvement of the community, which in 76.2% of the Caritas monitored involved public bodies, private bodies or NGOs, parishes, voluntary groups and individuals.
The monitoring carried out confirmed that in 59.4% of the Italian Caritas the number of young volunteers under 34 has increased, a factor which made it possible to cope with the drop in the over-65s who have remained inactive for precautionary reasons.
Unfortunately 42 volunteers and employees tested positive for COVID-19 in 22 diocesan Caritas, and in 9 Caritas 10 deaths were registered.
In the face of changing needs and requests, services and interventions have also changed or been adapted, in particular listening and telephone support services – with 22,700 contacts registered – or even the Church’s presence in hospitals and nursing homes.
The supply of takeaway meals and home deliveries has risen to 56,500 people, and the supply of personal protective equipment and sanitising devices has increased to approximately 290,000 beneficiaries.
Italian Caritas has also been involved in support activities for nomads and circus performers forced to settle; the purchase of medicines and health products; the remodeling of services for the homeless; family aid initiatives for smart working and distance learning; interventions in support of small businesses; and accompaniment in the experience of mourning.
Many dioceses have made their facilities available to doctors and nurses and quarantined and homeless people.
To date, 68 installations with almost 1,450 places have been made available to the Civil Protection and the National Health System by 48 dioceses throughout Italy.
To these are added 46 other facilities, with over 1,100 places, which 34 Italian dioceses have made available for people in quarantine and/or discharged from hospitals.
The Italian Church has also provided more than 64 installations in 42 dioceses for the additional reception of over 1,200 homeless people, in addition to its ordinary residential hospitality.