Helping hands: Caritas Macau to coordinate govt’s 8.6 million pataca food assistance program for 1,500 citizens

Marco Carvalho

The new food assistance scheme is aimed at involuntary long-term unemployed residents who have already received the 90-day unemployment allowance granted by the Social Security Fund. According to government estimates, the program should cover about 1,500 people and cost 8.6 million patacas, the secretary general of Caritas, Paul Pun Chi Meng, told O Clarim. “This initiative was devised by the Social Welfare Bureau and aims to provide support to unemployed residents. When I say unemployed, I mean residents who are in an involuntary unemployment situation. This means that the company they worked for ceased its activity or their employment contracts were terminated,” the head of Caritas Macau explained.

Paul Pun continued, adding, “The residents being targeted by the government through this program have already received their unemployment allowance. They can enroll in this short-term food assistance program until the end of the current year. The scheme provides for the distribution of food assistance during a ten-week period, renewable for a similar period. The government will provide an allowance of around 40 patacas a day to those eligible.”

The new aid mechanism excludes residents being granted other types of social benefits. As a partner of the new short-term food assistance program, Caritas Macau hopes to be able to exploit the scheme’s potential to the fullest and provide other forms of support to those in need. Paul Pun assured us, “We are not just distributing food. If some of these people need support, if they need psychological help, we can help them. We have the ability to listen to their worries and by doing that we will try to prevent other sorts of problems. Sometimes people need someone who can listen to them, who can help them. Our doors are always open, our windows are always open. Those in need can get help from us.”

Up until April 25th, the Caritas Macau psychological counseling hotline received over 4,000 calls. The number of people seeking help has decreased slightly compared to last year, according to the secretary general of Caritas. “In 2021, the hotline received around 12,400 calls. This year, until April 25th, we received 4,041 calls. This means that people still feel the need to seek help and feel that Caritas can help them alleviate the psychological burden they carry,” Paul Pun concluded.

(Photo: Peggychoucair at Pixabay)