Bettina is 41 years old and a mother of three, a “get-to-work” type of person. Although the Carinthian woman was a single parent, she was able to balance work, work and home and care for her three school-age children. But one day everything changed. Her employer was forced to file for bankruptcy and Bettina lost her job. The 41-year-old was increasingly worried about how he would make ends meet financially in the future. Later, her eldest daughter had a baby and Bettina took her in as a foster child.
“I didn’t hesitate for a moment. It was my duty to help my daughter,” says the Carinthian woman. However, financial difficulties gradually grew and rising prices in every aspect of life, whether for electricity, rent or food, hit the family hard: “If you don’t know how to pay the outstanding bills, “This fills you. You are afraid; you are afraid of the future.”
Bettina eventually returned to Caritas. This helped him with utilities and buying school supplies. “We would like to thank the Caritas social counseling center for their quick and concrete assistance. My family needs him urgently,” said the mother of three, who gratefully told her story at the Caritas Carinthia press conference on Wednesday.
Sandriesser, Bettina and Christine Ofner (left to right) from Caritas social consultancy
At Caritas, we know that there are many people like Bettina who, until now, have had both feet alive and are suddenly worried about their existence – and there are a growing number of them. More than 1,800 new applications for assistance have been submitted in Carinthia this year alone, and Caritas currently supports around 6,900 women, men and children. Those most affected are single parents, families with many children and minimum pensioners.
“We are noticing more and more people coming to us who previously got by quite well with the high cost of living, but now their reserves have been exhausted. They say they never asked for help from anywhere and never thought they would need support from Caritas,” says Christine Ofner, social counseling team leader at Caritas Carinthia. And the situation could get worse for people who already had little money before the difficult economic situation and had to convert each euro twice.
Poverty-proof social network needed
Caritas director Ernst Sandriesser is worried: “An uncertain winter is on the way. “Emergencies now also affect people who previously lived off their income.” He calls on federal and state policymakers to ensure a poverty-free social network without gaps.