In a society that functions in a balanced way and that protects all components of its population in the same way, the pandemic should not cause the hunger queues like the ones we have been seeing in Spain during pandemic. If they appeared, it is because there are deeper problems that condemn certain segments of the population to a more acute vulnerability in situations like the one we are experiencing. At the social level, what the pandemic seems to demonstrate most strongly is that a significant percentage of the population lives in a situation that does not guarantee them resources even for a month of confinement. A confinement carried out in conditions that allow maintaining a decent standard of living was unattainable or almost a luxury for many.
In Spain the submerged economy flourishes and is one of the most developed among European countries. Many people live on the margins of society depending on precarious jobs, largely feminized or racialized and not recognized socially and / or legally, despite the fact that these jobs are essential for good functioning of whole country. Cleaners, caregivers or day laborers are some of the most striking examples. Many of these people also live in an administrative situation that conditions the development of their life projects, preventing them from accessing safe jobs in decent conditions.
During the confinement, many of these people were excluded from any institutional help or support, unable to even submit a subsidy application. Others, in the process of regularization, were left in limbo, since all administrative procedures were suspended.
Many of these people were also forced to go to the solidarity food pantries, set up by neighborhood networks that have so far saved a multitude of families from the risk of hunger and acute social exclusion. Without salaries or rights to benefits, unemployment or ERTE*, these people often had to choose between paying their rent or buying food.
To respond to the emergency and meet the most basic needs of these people, neighborhood networks and various neighborhood organizations launched a series of solidarity initiatives. From food pantries, through a network of volunteer interpreters who facilitated the care of immigrants in health centers, to support against the risk of evictions and the fight against the digital gap that, in times of pandemic, had disastrous consequences in terms of access to aid and administrative procedures.
*ERTE - Temporary Employment Regulation - is a measure approved by the government in Spain during the pandemic to protect jobs from layoffs.
Project realized with a support of a grant from the European Journalism COVID-19 Support Fund
The Ignored Ones - Hanna Jarzabek - Photography & Documentary Storytelling
The Hidden Face of the System