High prices see severalfold increase in number of those in need
As prices continue to rise, the number of families in Tallinn to receive subsistence benefits has quadrupled on year. Charities acknowledge that increasing numbers of people are visiting soup kitchens as well.
There was a long line for a soup kitchen located by Tallinn's Central Market on Sunday morning. Among those served by the soup kitchen are people experiencing homelessness as well as people with substance use disorders. Konstantin, who works for Living Israel, said that they've been seeing more people come by to eat lately.
"We started seeing a lot of folks who are vulnerable," Konstantin explained. "They have a place to live, but because they have huge utility and electric bills, they've started coming here to eat soup and pick up some foodstuffs."
Several Christian organizations run soup kitchens at the Central Market.
Living Israel provides soup on Sundays, and makes 60 liters to distribute. The nonprofit New Beginning Help Center (Uue Alguse Abikeskus) offers soup on Saturdays.
"We used to make 75 liters of soup, and now [we're making] 120 liters and that's hardly enough," Sergei said. "The women serving the soup measure to make sure that there's enough for everyone. First, soup is served on soup plates. To the extent possible, soup is also packed for people to take to go."
Tallinn Deputy Mayor Betina Beškina (Center) said that 9,000 families in the Estonian capital receive subsistence benefits, noting that the number thereof has quadrupled on year.
In the first nine months of 2022, a total of €10 million has been paid out in subsistence benefits in the capital city. In the first nine months of last year, in contrast, just €3.5 million in subsistence benefits had been paid out to Tallinn residents.
Beškina said that these figures are being impacted by war refugees who have arrived from Ukraine, but not only.
"You could already see an increase at the beginning of the year — in January, in February," she said, adding that this was significantly impacted by energy prices as well as the prices of goods and services going up. "Included in that group are various people — families with children, elderly people, some young and disabled people."
Last week, the Salvation Army opened a new center on Katusepapi tänav in Lasnamäe. People in need found their way here as well.
"Seven or eight people showed up on the first soup kitchen day," Salvation Army Estonia director Andrey Konovalov called. "We hadn't even managed to advertise yet when 17 people showed up, and yesterday there were more than 40 people here."
Konovalov noted that also among those to come seek help are people who are on the edge financially and afraid of the possibility that everything is going to get even more expensive as well.
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Editor: Aili Vahtla