More and more people with higher education are asking for help due to poverty, AMI warns


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There are more and more people with higher education resorting to requests for help due to poverty, warned today the Medical Aid International (AMI), noting that “very low wages” do not allow them to meet the needs.

“Already starting to appear here worrying numbers of people who actually have a more advanced schooling, a higher level of literacy. Even people who took higher education and then, or can not get something that is compatible with their training, or else, can, but with very low wages, “said to Lusa the director of AMI in the Porta Amiga Center in Chelas (Lisbon).

According to Salomé Marques, people are mostly asking for food.

“The glaring [request] is food. [People] come to the center (…) with that need. But then, in the office environment, we realize that, in addition to food, there is a whole series of very extensive needs, whether water, electricity, gas, rents, medication and sometimes exams, that the National Health Service (SNS) does not share”, he stressed.

The official also pointed out that the non-governmental organization (NGO) has been receiving more requests for psychological support.

“We are feeling people’s mental health getting weaker and weaker. That is, this is very worrying, because there are no jobs, there is no economic power, and of course all emotional stability is going to be affected and it ends up snowballing,” he said.

“If mental health is not well, we can hardly make the leap to improving other levels,” he added.

Salomé Marques anticipated that the poverty situation in Portugal will “get worse” in the near future.

“If these people are already vulnerable, most will become more so, because of our total population, the majority who are of working age are unemployed. Between the ages of 16 and 66, 70% of our population is unemployed. We fear that the situation will get even worse,” he noted, foreseeing that by the end of the year the number of requests for help could skyrocket, compared to 2022.

According to a report by the NGO, published at the end of April, the number of new requests for help to AMI increased 46% in the first quarter of this year and 53% in cases of homelessness compared to the same period in the previous year.

AMI specified that its social services supported in the first quarter 5,409 people in situations of social vulnerability, of which 533 sought support for the first time, an increase of 46% compared to the same period in 2022.

Of the people supported, 50% are men (2,692) and 50% are women (2717), and most are of working age, between 16 and 66 (70%), followed by those under 16 (21%) and those over 66 (7%).

The majority (79%) are from Portugal and 6% from the Portuguese-speaking African Countries (PALOP).

As far as employment is concerned, 43% of people over 16 do not have any professional activity and 41% have no professional training.

According to AMI, the economic resources come mainly from social support such as RSI – Social Integration Income (18%), pensions and retirement (10%), subsidies and institutional support (5%).

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