November has only just begun but the first death owing to the cold on the streets in Hungary has already been reported: a homeless man froze to death last week in Tatabánya. Homeless shelters are even now preparing for a long and difficult winter, which may be made more troublesome by administrative hurdles.
The Ministry of Human Resources reported last Friday that around 10,000 places are available for homeless people and a total of over HUF 8.5 billion (EUR 29.90 million) has been invested in their care.
What is called the crisis period began on Thursday, 1 November. Throughout the winter people are taken from the streets to emergency accommodation, The shelters increase their capacity and make additional sleeping places available. These are mainly mattresses in corridors and on the floors of the dormitories, but social workers are agreed than anything is better than being on the street in temperatures far below zero.
Nóra Bagdi from the Menedékház Foundation views the situation with concern: “We can provide an additional 20 per cent capacity but our financial means are very limited,” she said.
The KENySzI software introduced in the summer is also giving the social workers headaches: “The thinking behind the program is good but day-to-day implementation is already causing us some difficulties,” an employee of the homeless shelter said. However, nobody will be sent back to the streets because of administrative irregularities.
Possibilities to assist
Last winter our editorial office received several calls from people asking how they could help. Below are some ideas.
Warm winter clothing, shoes, socks and winter hats can be handed in directly at many foundations. Non-perishable foodstuffs, in particular tinned food, tinned fish and shrink-wrapped sausage and cheese products are always a great help. These can also be handed in to the organisations. Anyone wishing to spare themselves the journey can of course give such food directly to those in need with a smile.
Warm blankets, bedclothes, sleeping bags and camping mats are vital in the winter.
Anyone who sees somebody on the streets in the cold without sufficient warm clothing or bedding should alert the dispatcher service of the Menhely Foundation. Its crisis vehicles or those of the Maltese Charity Service will then go out to help.
Dispatcher service: (06-1) 338-4186 (extension one to alert the service to homeless people without sufficient warm clothing or bedding on the Pest side of the city, and extension two for the Buda side).
If you have questions about places accepting donations, please contact Elisabeth Grabow (firstname.lastname@example.org).