Caritas aiding Spain's 'new poor'

Thousands of Spanish families have been forced to turn to aid agency Caritas for help in the midst of Spain's economic crisis.  

The annual report for the Almeria branch of Caritas revealed that Spanish families receiving food aid in 2012 outnumbered immigrant families - 4,652 compared to 3,844.

Details of the 38-page report were published by the Fides news agency and showed that together, Spanish and immigrant families received more than a million kilos in food aid in 2012.

Spain's fortunes could be about to turn a corner after the Bank of Spain estimated recently that the economy contracted by just 0.1% in the second quarter, the slowest rate of decline in nearly two years.

But the financial crisis triggered record levels of unemployment and although the number of registered jobless has fallen in the last five months, the unemployment rate is expected to remain above 25% for the next five years.

A total of 62,108 families and 31,485 individuals turned to Caritas for assistance last year, mainly requesting food, clothing, medicine and child support.

Director of Caritas Almeria, Andres Asensio Martinez, said it was vital that people of faith step in to help those struggling .

"Our intervention regards the situation of the new poor who, after having lost their jobs and overwhelmed by the tax burden, knock on the doors of Caritas to meet the basic needs of their family. Our mission is to help them, especially when the authorities look the other way," he said.