The new Red Cross report shows a significant increase in economic vulnerability in Västerbotten, with an increasing number of people seeking help from community organizations for basic needs such as food and clothing.
– I feel that more and more people are going hungry. It's mainly a combination of the economic downturn and the fact that the prices of practically everything have gone up. Food prices have risen significantly, says Alexandra Sundberg.
Skellefteå was included in the study. In each place, organizations that help individuals, such as the Swedish Church and the City Mission, were consulted. The picture is very serious. The increased need for help mainly concerns food, clothing and financial support for dental care, other medical care and medication.
According to the Red Cross, the need is particularly acute in Västerbotten's larger municipalities, Umeå and Skellefteå.
– Children should not have to go to bed hungry or freeze because they can't afford a winter jacket.
The report shows that families with children have reported not being able to afford clothes to participate in school sports, for example.
– We try to do what we can. To meet the need, we have chosen to lower prices when everything else is getting more expensive. In our thrift store, we have lowered the prices of clothes, books and articles, and we have also even lowered the price of coffee, says Alexandra Sundberg.
The Red Cross is also about to launch a new initiative.
– We call it 'Open Wednesday'. We will offer a meal, recognizing the needs of more hungry and lonely people. We will be working with hotels, restaurants, and stores to reduce food waste.
They usually have around a hundred visitors on the days they are open.
– We want to be a meeting place where people can have human contact, sit down and talk to someone, says Sundberg.
There are also problems with a lack of housing for the homeless and the undocumented, and municipalities have become more restrictive with financial support. In Skellefteå there is a shelter in Ursviken.
– There are also those who are outside the system and in the asylum process. We are in contact with the municipality to ensure that even those without a personal identification number can stay in the shelter.
The Red Cross's survey is based on data collected from more than 200 civil society organizations in 83 municipalities across all 21 counties.
In Västerbotten, the examination focused on the situations in Skellefteå, Lycksele, Umeå, Vilhelmina, and Vännäs.