Applications to Icelandic Church Aid have increased by 40%, RÚV reports.
These applications come mostly from families with children, who are facing financial hardship—largely due to the coronavirus pandemic. The number of applications also represents those who have been living in poverty long-term, such as those who are forced to rely on government benefits.
The underlying issue of poverty has been magnified due to the effects of the pandemic, not only because so many people have lost their jobs, but because staying at home is expensive in itself. As Vilborg Oddsdóttir, a social worker at Icelandic Church Aid, notes: “It costs a lot to stay home during the epidemic.” The cost of staying warm, fed, and entertained whilst at home during the pandemic is enough to further financial strain for those who are already experiences financial hardship. Taking measures to look after mental and physical health on top of this is a cost too great for many families to cover.
Of course, the people who are facing some of the harshest effects of poverty are those who are experiencing homelessness. RÚV reports that there are eighty people in Reykjavík awaiting shelter. To address this issue, the Reykjavík City Welfare Council are building cottages around the city and also buying apartments which can be rented to those who are transitioning out of homelessness. There are five cottages in Gufunes which will be ready to receive residents soon, hopefully before Christmas.
As the pandemic persists, and its effects continue to impact societies most vulnerable, it is important that assistance remains accessible to those who need it the most.
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