Europe: Large families associations in action during Covid-19 emergency

In previous news we have told, for example, the campaign in Estonia to donate computers to families, or the research by our Croatian association on the effect of the pandemic on families with children. For a more general overview, we have asked large families associations from different countries what kind of activities are they doing to face the lockdown, and these are some of the answers.

GERMANY: Verband kinderreicher Familien Deutschland e. V. – KRFD

With the beginning of the Corona crisis, the association has reacted to the needs of large families during this period and the challenges they face with various offers. For example, social counselling has been significantly expanded. In the meantime, there are fixed telephone consultation hours every day, during which those affected receive an initial consultation free of charge and anonymously on request from experienced social workers. This offer has been used more than 900 times in recent weeks.

Furthermore, the association issued about 1400 certificates about the respective household size. These can be shown by the families in grocery stores to prove that they are parents of large families. In many cases, this made it possible to make purchases without the families being suspected of buying hamsters or being denied sufficient quantities.

Another offer that is gladly used is the support of IT specialists in the purchase of used or new hardware and software for the children’s home schooling. They check the offers according to the technical requirements and against realistic assessments whether the purchase is worthwhile. Within the last 6 weeks, almost 100 learning mentors have also been arranged – volunteer mentors support children from families with several children who require individual support in individual subjects to complete their schoolwork at home.

The advice given to women on how to reconcile family and career was also continued accordingly, and now mainly covers questions about working and caring for underage children during the Corona crisis.

GREECE: Supreme Confederation of Multi-Child Parents – ASPE

ASPE has been active during the country’s lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection. Immediately after the lockdown, the “stay at home” campaign logo has been figuring on the home page of our web page (logo follows) together with a link to the relevant instructions of the National Health Organization.

We have been servicing our members remotely, mainly via e-mail, issuing membership cards to new members and providing support wherever else needed.

Moreover, beneath this logo, we have created a useful material collection for family activities, such as cross-words, links to virtual tours of museums etc.

On the advocacy work side, we have sent 2 letters to the Government complaining about not taking into account the special needs of large / multichild families (4+). The second letter includes a translated version of ELFAC’s statement towards the European Institutions on the emergency issues and the large families.

Our work has been slowed down and some activities have been postponed, but nonetheless ASPE has remained active during this new crisis, which we hope that it will last long, because it is killing people, the economy and some of the human freedoms, like going to church or entertainment activities that are crucial for the psychological stability of people.

POLAND: Związek Dużych Rodzin “Trzy Plus” – ZDR3+

After the quarantine was announced, our association quickly switched to remote work. We have launched the Teams platform for communicating and reporting tasks. Our local branches have been instructed on how to conduct annual online meetings. We have increased the team of psychologists offering help to large families by phone and e-mail.

We have started the transmission of webinars in the field of psychology and education, with content adapted to the current situation. In our Mobile Application reaching over 130,000 people, we launched the Family Market – a place where families can advertise their products and services free of charge.

Preparations are underway to reorganize the large meeting of our members, which was to take place in spring, for a series of on-line meetings and trainings. We are currently sending a survey to families asking about the effects of the epidemic on their family.

SPAIN: Federación Española de Familias Numerosas – FEFN

These are some the main actions that the Spanish Federation has been done during Covid-19 crisis:

Reinforced information and advice service for families. We have intensified the information and advisory service to families, reinforcing the attention to families in the usual channels (consultations by email and through social networks).

Large family member of the association on live TV news

Creation of “We are with you”, a specific channel to support families in this difficult situation. We have made available to families a specific email to which they can send us queries, doubts, concerns of families in relation to the health crisis and all its effects on the labor, economic, educational level … This channel was opened shortly after the State of Alarm was decreed and we have received hundreds of inquiries about employment aid (ERTE), mortgage moratorium, education issues, rental aid, the departure of children, etc.

We have constantly informed families of the benefits established by the Government to support families affected by the crisis: aid for housing, for self-employed, news about the school year, the departure of children, etc. News has been published on our website and social networks.

Association activities: Our regional and local associations are doing many activities to support families right now, from video contests to online conferences on various topics of interest to families (tips for improving quarantine coexistence, tips on online education, etc.). Several regional surveys have also been carried out to determine the impact of the crisis on large families.

Requests to the Government. We have also been the voice of large families, bringing to the government our demands to protect large families at this special time. Thus, we have prepared press releases asking that the number of children be taken into account when establishing financial aid, increasing the income limits to access certain benefits. We have asked to extend the limit of children per adult allowed to leave outside for a short walk. We have had a presence in media, through large families who have told how are they managing the confinement; they have helped us to reflect the reality of these households and defend our demands.

Just now we are preparing a national survey and a national photo contest, both focused on the Covid-19 crisis.

PORTUGAL: Associação Portuguesa de Famí­lias Numerosas – APFN

In addition to its regular work on all areas, in this pandemic situation, APFN’s focus has been directed, namely, to the following points:

We have been looking for partnerships for basic products with special conditions for large families in retail prices and home deliveries;

We have created a highlight on the website where we have been posting the information that we consider more important, taking into account the questions that the associates  have made us, namely, regarding the existing public support to families.

Our legal office has been  clarifying any questions that we received by email;

We are moving forward with the creation of the APFN online community that will allow greater interaction and mutual help between families;

We contacted all municipalities to ask them information about the special measures created to support families at this stage and we are collecting and placing this information online to motivate municipalities to do more and better;

Our studies office is conducting a survey of all policies that are being adopted to support the family in the rest of Europe;

We issued several announcements calling for attention on the problems faced by our families and we have counted with the collaboration of our  families to give interviews for the media (newspapers, radio and television) in order to show the constraints they suffer daily  and the need to adopt public policies that help to overcome these constraints. The biggest constraint is that those who are at home teleworking do not have any government support to take care of their children and we have shown that it is not possible to be teleworking full time and at the same time  taking care of a large family  (often with very young children in need of help with their school assignments)  and we have requested the government to allow either the father or the mother or both to work part-time with a compensation for this loss of income.

We have been responding to all requests of help that arrive from the associates by forwarding them to institutions dedicated to local support.

APFN has created ‘Famílias em Rede’ a project which promotes informal support networks between families. For the first time we held an online session, joining six families from different parts of the country. The families talked about their routines, teleworking, challenges of being a large family in this confinement  period. This first online session was such a success that we are preparing another session to create new networks.

CROATIA: Obitelji 3 plus

Within the period from 3 to 8 April, the Association conducted a research on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on families with children that included parents from more than 2.300 families from all over Croatia.

Furthermore, the Families 3plus Association constantly gives out advices in various aspects, such as regarding exercising at home, studying with children, spending quality family time, etc., in order for each family to remain calm and bring out their best in this unique period. Emphasis is also put on interviewing 3plus families so that other families can be presented with useful and practical advice during the period of isolation.

The Association by all means takes care and appeals with the aim that rights are not reduced for families with children, as well as in order to provide financial assistance to those who are especially vulnerable as a results of the current situation. In this time when families with children are particularly at risk, we need to show support for each other.

LATVIA: Union of Large Families Associations – ULLFA

The Union of Latvian Large Families Associations ULLFA translated the ELFAC Statement On large families in Europe and COVID-19 emergency  from April 2, 2020 in Latvian, presented it to the Government and the Parliament of Latvia and called on to take care of large families, deciding on the types of assistance in the time of the Covid-19 emergency. The government responded by:

  • to redirect state budget funds to Municipalities in order to provide free lunches for children from low-income, poor and large families. In situations when are not possible to arrange lunch delivery at home, families get product packages or cards to purchase products in stores;
  • for families who, due to an emergency situation, are unable to provide for their basic needs, the municipality grants the crisis situation’ benefits. The municipalities increase this benefit on 50 euros for each child;
  • An employee who receives downtime benefit, receive also the premium 50 euros for each dependent child under the age of 24 years.

As training of schoolchildren are now taking place at home, Samsung Electronics Baltics has helped to provide the schoolchildren of ULLFA with tablets.

ULLFA is currently thinking how to organize now meetings, seminars, discussions with politicians, municipal and employer representatives, as well as for the organization of events, also such as International Family Day on May 15 online.

HUNGARY: Nagycsaládosok Országos Egyesülete – NOE

NOE (National Association of Large Families in Hungary) has not stopped for a moment to help “boost” the immune system of society during the pandemic. With our employees and volunteers in action we monitor, engage, service, care, etc., that is doing our best to assist our membership and all those in need.

  • Our local branches (more than 200 around the country) provide constant feedback from the ground on the mental well-being, possible financial difficulties and problems related to home schooling in our families. We send regular updates based on these reports to related ministries and authorities.
  • Through our weekly newsletter we keep our membership (13500 member families) updated, with special sections on family related state acts, legal advice, donations (to give or to receive) and possible discounts.
  • We were happy to receive some significant charity offers from companies, including Henkel offering 300 families detergents and disinfectants and VitaPlusz providing vitamins for 340 families. Our members are also helping one another through our “angel post” service.
  • To commemorate the “invisible work day”, we issued a photo contest encouraging families to picture their lockdown life moments being together.
  • We are constantly present on different online platforms and in the media. Our reach grew exponentially on eg. Facebook in the last weeks.
NOE hymn was sung online by large families from different cities of Hungary

Last but not least it is also important to mention the concrete steps the government took to help families in Hungary: So far ALL types of paid parental leaves have been automatically extended until the end of the state of emergency. This action was very welcomed by parents who would otherwise find themselves in an unregulated situation, possibly without any income. No special paid parental leave was introduced for the COVID-19 related lockdown, however, parents who are unable to work due to child care duties related to the lockdown can go on paid sick leave. A payment moratorium as of 19 March 2020 until 31 December 2020 was introduced allowing a payment holiday on all loans and financial leasing for all debtors (private persons and legal entities). The popular housing and baby-welcome subsidies are available for young couples uninterruptedly.

ITALY: Associazione Nazionale Famiglie Numerose (ANFN)

Italian large families during Covid19: the nice side of being a lot under the same roof. Music, games, videos and songs in everyday life of many italian large families as the virus lockdowns the country. Have a look

Supporting measures for families do not consider large families and children over 14: ANFN launches the campaign #ognifigliovale on socials to call for attention to the invisible children, students still living in the family, without income. ANFN President Mario Sberna writes Giuseppe Conte and Elena Bonetti, minister of family: “Children up to 14 cost – according to our researches- about 10.000€ per year. Older children can cost 12.000€ and more, if they attend universities far from home. We ask the Government to provide allowances for these children as well, at least in large families, which are less that 8% of Italian families. We just ask justice and equity and the observance of the Art. 31 of our national Constitution, which states clearly that big families deserve “special regard”.

For large families during lockdown, ANFN has started a list of facebook live events, beginning from the 14th of April. Each appointment is dedicated to a special unit of the Association, with interviews to the delegates that work on it, videos and family explaining about the different projects of the association. Already several events have given the chance to all families to get to know about the “training and development” Unit, including the school for family counselor, about the solidarity program “Aiutiamcoci” , to help families in economic emergency and the peer family to family project for vulnerable families. One event was dedicated to ANFN political actions, with the campaign #ognifigliovale (every child counts), the national family card and local policies, another event was about the very special fair in Perugia, “Professione Mamma” where mothers (and fathers) of large families share their competences, hobbies and talents. Coming up, on April the 30th, after a special live stream on the young people of the association, Mauro and Filomena Ledda will be talking about the Italian network of family friendly municipalities, while, in May, ELFAC’s president, Regina Maroncelli, will be talking about ELFAC, Europe and the European Network. On facebook, live!

The second call for dissertations on the theme of the family was launched at the end of February. Promoted by Anfn, the prize enhances young people dedicating to the study of the family, to involve universities and lecturers on family issues, to deepen the themes of the family in a scientific way. The prize will be awarded to a three-year degree thesis or master’s thesis that develops the key themes contained in the “Charter of Values” that are the foundation of ANFN.

UKRAINE: Association of Hungarian Large Families in Transcarpathia

Since the formation of our association in 2012, 752 families have joined us. This year, until the beginning of the spread of the Corona Virus, we managed to organize 14 programs, in addition to our ongoing club meetings that serve a variety of groups: handcraft-, mothers-, fathers-, youth-, grandparents- and STEAM clubs, with a frequency of 2 weeks.

The global pandemic, as everywhere, has brought huge changes in the life of our Association. During the quarantine period, we conducted a survey among our more than 700 member families, which revealed that the biggest problem for large families is the loss of jobs and the consequent loss of income due to the coronavirus epidemic.

As a quick response, we made a decision to reallocate our resources, announcing a social program at the expense of funding the costs of our other events. Under this, the families submitting the application could choose from two options: requesting farm animals – bee or poultry (chicken, duck) or domestic rabbit / food package (for similar price).

The highly successful program has allowed more than 300 families to benefit from farm animals and more than 100 families to receive food packages.

We have announced a dental-care program for those member-families who cannot afford the high costs of dental treatment, as well as a scholarship program to assist with educational costs.

For the coming part of the year, we have planned about 35 more programs and we will continue our club sessions as well. We thank Dr. István Grezsa, the Ministerial Commissioner for the Development of Transcarpathia and the Kindergarten Development Program in the Carpathian Basin, the Hungarian Government and Bethlen Gábor Alapkezelő Zrt ( Gábor Bethlen Fund Management Ltd ) for giving us the opportunity to implement our above-mentioned programs.

More information about our programs can be found on our website.

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