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Many low-income families seek help from charities

Charitable groups in Finland are burdened with requests and some families may have to wait for weeks to get assistance.

Iso kasa lahjoitettua tavaraa Kajaanin Hope ry:n tiloissa
Pandemic restrictions had made it hard for charitable organisations to deliver aid to those in need. Image: Hope ry Kajaani

The household incomes of about 100,000 Finnish children fell below the poverty line during the coronavirus spring and many families face a shortage of food and clothing, according to a recent report by the Central Union for Child Welfare.

Hope, a charitable organisation that offers aid to low-income families with children said it is experiencing the busiest late-summer season in its history.

"When we started accepting applications from those seeking aid earlier this month, we received requests from more than a thousand families with children in five days. So far, we have received 2,300 requests," Hope’s CEO, Eveliina Hostila, said.

The huge number of lay-offs and rise in unemployment caused by the coronavirus crisis drove many families in Finland to dire circumstances over a period of weeks. Unemployment funds also reported serious congestion in the processing of unemployment benefits, further exacerbating the situation.

"However, these are only surface-level problems. Many of these families were already in bad situations in the past and the pandemic only worsened their plight," Hostila added.

Long wait for aid

The charity stated that offering aid proved to be a particularly challenging task amidst pandemic restrictions — specially-packed aid bags had to be delivered to doorsteps. Packages usually include food vouchers, toiletries, books, clothes and shoes.

Many charitable organisations are burdened with requests and some families may have to wait for up to weeks to receive aid.

"While we cannot help everyone as quickly as we would like, we still do our best to help just about every family," Hostila added.

Fortunately, the crisis has also increased people’s desire to help, according to Hope. The charity said it has received generous donations from companies, organisations and individuals from across Finland.

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