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“In a month and a half, people who had very little have gone to have nothing”


Francisco Galvañ: “In a month and a half, people who had very little have gone to have nothing”


Francisco Galvañ, president of the Spanish Red Cross in the province of Alicante

© Unidad Editorial, S.A.
Francisco Galvañ, president of the Spanish Red Cross in the province of Alicante

In this unprecedented and complex scenario that the coronavirus is leaving, what are the direct consequences that the Red Cross has detected in the province and on which it is acting? As you know, apart from being a health crisis, it has a very important economic and social derivative, which affects above all the most vulnerable groups, those who already had considerable difficulties to get ahead and who have now seen their daily lives aggravated. The most pressing problems are, obviously, those derived from the loss of employment and regular income. Jobs in many precarious cases and without subsidy guarantees now … Indeed. People who had jobs in sectors such as construction, hospitality, home cleaning … Many remained within the shadow economy and are now unable to access tax benefits. They are groups that suddenly have seen that they have no income. Has that been noticed in the number of people asking for help? Yes, directly. The number of people requesting help through the municipal social services has increased in a very important way. In this month and a half, 50% of the attentions are new users. During this period we have 53,000 activities carried out with people in the province and of that amount, some 26,000 are with new people. Is there a particular group that needs more attention? Yes. Older people are among the most affected. Many are dependent or live alone, others had the possibility of going to a day center and now they cannot because they are confined. This has generated new needs and that forces us to increase care. Apart from the loss of employment, there is the difficulty in training, since many of these people do not even have access to information technology for it. What is the work done in this area? One of the most important areas that we have been working at at the Red Cross is precisely that of employment. Now, as you point out, this situation is much more serious. Although we continue to make the effort and maintain active training itineraries, telematic channels for job orientation, tutorials with partner companies … many of the people they are targeting do not have the resources to be able to follow that training from their homes. This is what we are trying to provide them with so that they do not lose that connection they had with us, especially for the future, because the situation is going to be very complicated. Volunteering is essential in the solidarity work of the Red Cross. Have you experienced an increase in applications? Have people been activated? Have they responded in the expected way? It was a very positive response. In this month and a half we have had more than 700 requests for the incorporation of new volunteers, of which some 300 have already joined to do activities. I am very happy with the solidarity of the people, especially because it is also a very complex time to volunteer for their own confinement and for the state of alarm, as well as for the possibility of contagion. With all this, a large number of people have turned to it. What is the response of people when they receive help? For a Red Cross volunteer, there is no greater reward than the look of a person when they receive that help, which It can be material but it can also consist of the attention received. Think that many of the beneficiaries of our programs live alone. In fact, one of the most active projects is home telecare, which serves more than 22,000 people in the province of Alicante, with which we monitor the needs of these people daily to meet them. And it’s something they really appreciate. There is a maxim that we all have made our own during this confinement, the ‘stay at home’ and that it is so difficult to apply when you do not have a home in which to stay safe. What is the situation of this group of homeless people and how has it acted? It is a group that we have been serving for a long time but whose situation is unsustainable right now. Before, they could have small aids, a handout, a bar that could give them a sandwich … all that they no longer have. In a month and a half those who had very little have gone to have absolutely nothing. We are giving a food aid, we have distributed sandwiches for dinner and now, thanks to the collaboration and donation of the Maestral restaurant, we are also offering them a hot plate, at least while this state of alarm lasts. How will we get out of this? Will we manage to close the gap with these groups that has become even clearer during this crisis? We are going to find a scenario unknown to all of us and that in principle, I do not think it will help make things easier. A special effort will have to be made with those most vulnerable groups: homeless people but also those families who lived daily, with jobs in the underground economy and with almost no ability to save, who now lack any type of income. Even with families that have lost one of their members, in which the emotional burden can be added to the anguish that this person was the only one who provided the sole livelihood for the house … These will be difficult times but the Red Cross will be always there, as we have been in other emergencies. In fact, the entity had prepared the Respond Plan for two months but in two weeks, the national president will surely extend it until the end of the year. This will mean readjusting all our action plans, as well as our budgets, which will have to be increased.


  • Greater. 58% of the total number of people served in the province of Alicante through the Red Cross Responds program are people over 65 years of age.
  • Helps. This plan has already reached 83,000 specific services in the Valencian Community.
  • Feminization of vulnerability. 72% of the elderly served are women (by province, in Alicante they represent 71%, in Castellón 72% and in Valencia 74%).
  • Home Telecare. Only in the Community more than 30,000 seniors and / or dependents have this service, which offers help, company and security 24 hours, 365 days a year.

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