Christmas in Spain – 2012 style. One Red Cross clothes bank in a suburb south of Madrid has been open for 25 years. But organisers say they have have never known demand to be as high as it is this year.
Not only has demand increased, the profile of those coming in has changed.
With unemployment at a record high of 25 percent, ordinary Spaniards are having to rely increasingly on the Red Cross for help.
“We are seeing more and more locals coming in,” says one of the organiser. “They seem to be mainly interested in kid’s clothes.”
“The Red Cross and the food bank is a big help,” says one woman. “I don’t know what we would do if they weren’t here. The children don’t understand that things are scarce, you just have to feed them.”
It is a similar situation in Greece, where around a thousand people a day have lost their jobs since 2010.
Volunteers at one centre have got together to provide festive food for 85 families living in Athens.
“I have four kids,” says one man, an unemployed shipyard worker, “and instead of sitting at home and getting depressed, like those people who are committing suicide, I found an outlet in this. It helps my morale and we feed 110 people a day.”
One group cooks the food while another distributes it. Despite the hardship, it could be said that people in Spain and Greece are experiencing the true meaning of Christmas – the season of peace and goodwill to all men.