COVID stamp: here’s where your money is going
Swiss Post has been selling the “COVID-19 Solidarity” stamp since 6 April. Over two million francs have been raised so far. Half of the proceeds will go to the Swiss Red Cross (SRC) and half to Swiss Solidarity. We explain how the money will be used and give the people in urgent need of these donations their say.
In this extraordinary situation, it is vitally important that charities and food organizations provide help quickly. Eva Gammenthaler of the “Kirchliche Gassenabeit Bern” organization explains: “We had to restructure our services quickly and flexibly when the coronavirus outbreak began because we were no longer able to open our office for people living on the streets due to the Federal Office of Public Health stipulations.” “We nevertheless wanted to remain present and reachable. We also identified great demand for food as many people found themselves facing hardship from one day to the next and in some cases lost their entire income and everyday structure.”
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, “Gassenarbeit Bern” has been distributing food, sandwiches and drinks to people in need in the city every Tuesday and Thursday. “We’re only able to do this thanks to the support of lots of volunteers, various donations and Swiss Solidarity. The demand for food has increased sharply and we’re distributing between 100 and 150 bags of food every afternoon,” revealed Eva Gammenthaler. “At the same time, we’re also looking for sustainable solutions to the situations in which these people find themselves in discussion with them and are also providing direct support in some cases. And we’re spending more time out and about to meet people directly.”
“Winterhilfe” on board too
“Winterhilfe Schweiz”, a partner of Swiss Solidarity, is also currently focusing all its efforts on providing support during the coronavirus pandemic. “Our 27 offices in Switzerland are doing all they can to ensure those in need receive support as quickly as possible,” says Esther Güdel, the organization’s communication manager, highlighting one example where a family received a shopping voucher through their letter box within 24 hours after a desperate plea for help in a phone call to “Winterhilfe” in the Eastern Switzerland region. “The shopping vouchers are proving a good solution,” she notes. Cash is generally not provided. “Winterhilfe” received the following thank-you letter from a mum-of-three who is a self-employed hairdresser: “I can’t thank you enough. I’m so pleased and was almost in tears. Coronavirus is hitting us hard. Thank you so much! I can now look forward to cooking my children a lovely meal.”
Another family – a father, mother and two children – also got in touch to thank everyone who donated. The card said: “It is hard to find the right words to express our gratitude. I would simply like to say thank-you from the bottom of my heart from one human being to another.” The family ended up in dire straits financially because the father – a self-employed gardener with little work – was unable to sit the bus driver’s test due to coronavirus. And the mother was unable to continue working part-time as she could no longer rely on support from her children’s grandparents.
Over 100 organizations (as at mid-May) both small and large, such as Pro Juventute, Heilsarmee and Caritas, have been working closely with Swiss Solidarity to distribute the money raised to those in need. Swiss Post is transferring the proceeds from the sale of the “COVID-19 Solidarity” stamp to Swiss Solidarity and the Swiss Red Cross on a monthly basis. This had reached a total of over 2.2 million francs by the editorial deadline at the end of May. You can find out how the money is being used and how quickly it is being distributed to those in need in the two interviews with Sabine Zeilinger from the SRC and Roland Thomann, Director of Swiss Solidarity.