- 9,061 elderly supported during one year of the pandemic by the Margareta of Romania Royal Foundation and its partners
- The main needs of the elderly during this period have been material aid and up-to-date information about community services
- 365,000 Euros invested in aid actions for seniors, during March 2020-March 2021
One year ago, in March 2020, in the context of the lockdown and imposed social isolation as a preventive measure against COVID-19, the Margareta of Romania Royal Foundation launched the Fund for the Elderly, an emergency project that has served the needs of 9,061 single and vulnerable seniors, from all over the country, thus contributing to the management of the crisis caused by the pandemic.
The uncommon global situation has brought new challenges for the entire population, but the elderly who already face difficult life situations have beenthe most affected. Even though many seniors received moral and financial support from their families or people from their social circle, in Romania, almost a third of the 3.7 million elderly faced the challenges of this period by themselves. For them, social isolation meant a lack of access to essential services and products, and the social distance deepened their sense of loneliness.
Through the national Elderly’s Helpline, the Foundation identified and mapped in real-time nation-wide the urgent needs expressed by the elderly during the state of emergency. The identified needs range from obtaining material assistance (food, medicine, hygiene products), requesting information about the services available in the community, to home care, but also medical information. The new types of requests addressed during this period were aimed at facilitating home delivery shopping and psychological counseling by phone. To address some of these needs, starting with March 17, 2020, the Margareta of Romania Royal Foundation has developed new support services for the elderly and brought additional members of specialists and volunteers to the team.
During the new social context, the Foundation launched a campaign to attract resources for the Fund for the Elderly. Because of this, the Foundation was able to focus on one of its core mission which is to improve the lives of the elderly of Romania. In this respect, the Foundation has activated a network of social services and support, expanding its projects and supporting NGOs and civic initiatives dedicated to seniors in need.
The Fund for the Elderly operates through four components designed to solve the diverse needs of the seniors according to their condition:
- The Elderly’s Helpline – the only free phone service nation-wide available;
- The Community Fund – support to NGOs in the country to help implement aid activities for the elderly in their community;
- Solidarity actions – material or financial aid for those living in precarious conditions;
- Volunteers for the Elderly – logistic actions taken in support of seniors.
During March 2020 – March 2021, the Elderly’s Helpline recorded a triple number of unique callers and a record number of telephone conversations. Thus, 3,827 seniors had 17,684 telephone conversations with social counselers, getting answers to the problems they faced. The team of social workers responded soulfully every day, listening to the issues of the elderly and identifying the resources and solutions available to them in the community, by accessing a database of 400 institutions and social, public and private providers. Psychologists provided counseling and emotional support, and volunteers trained by the Foundation provided relief to those in need of an conversational-partner, creating relationships via telephone through the weekly callback service. To respond to all requests in the context of the record number of calls, the Elderly Line team, currently composed of 3 social services specialists and 15 volunteers, has been expanded. The team welcomed 6 part-time psychologists and 8 psychologists as volunteers.
The main reasons why most of the elderly called the dedicated line between March 2020 and March 2021 were the need for material support (1,253 requests) and the need for up-to-date information about the services available in the community (1,198 requests). As well as asking for emotional support, psychological counseling, or medical information, seniors also requested help concerning home delivery for shopping and home care support. The addition of members and services of the Elderly’s Helpline has been possible with the help of the Vodafone Romania Foundation, SC Johnson Wax, Hochland Romania and the Romanian National Lottery Company.
Through the Fund for Communities, the Foundation supported, between March 2020 and March 2021, 21 NGOs that carried out activities dedicated to the elderly in 11 counties that helped 3,034 seniors. For 9 of these organizations there were awarded grants worth between 3,000 and 8000 euros, depending on the number of beneficiaries. These grants have enabled NGOs to continue to provide homecare social services, practical support at home, and material and emotional support for seniors affected by loneliness, physical immobility, chronic illness, precarious living, or advanced old age. Our partners’ contribution also made this possible: Orange Foundation, Alliance Healthcare, Metropolitan Life, Nuclearelectrica National Society, PBG Management & Engineering and Qualicaps Romania.
Through solidarity actions, the Foundation offered aid to elderly from 14 towns, offering 6,150 packages containing food, personal hygiene products, sanitary and paramedical products, footwear, or vouchers. With the help of City Grill, Fan Courier, Mega Image, Avicola Buzău, we offered 400 traditional holidays menus and packages with food and everyday products during Easter and Christmas. Food was provided throughout the year by Albalact, Laptaria cu caimac, Orkla Foods, and McDonald’s, while Alliance Healthcare, Hartmann Romania, Ecco Shoes, Sabon Holdings and GG Diagnostica provided personal hygiene products, footwear, but also protective masks, essential during the pandemic. Hundreds of elderly people also received vouchers or aid packages through the contribution of the Vodafone Romania Foundation, Hochland Romania, Kaufland Romania and the Romanian National Lottery Company.
The Volunteer for the Elderly campaign, initiated in March 2020 by the Margareta of Romania Royal Foundation, supported by Kaufland Romania, involved 304 volunteers of all ages, from various professions, throughout the country. They responded to the Foundation’s call for aid and got involved in logistical actions aimed at facilitating access to grocery shopping for 2,200 elderly. Teams of volunteers from companies such as Hochland Romania, Fan Courier, or Adobe have also joined forces to distribute aid packages at home for the lonely elderly or those struck by hardship.
The contribution and generosity of Romanians have made it possible to invest the sum of 365,000 euros in the Fund for the Elderly which offered various types of financial, practical, or emotional aid for the elderly in Romania. Through the fundraising campaign, We Have a Love to Give, supported by the branding, communication, and media agencies Heraldist & Wondermarks, Conan PR, Zenith Media and Media Trust, the Margareta of Romania Royal Foundation mobilized different types of contributions from donors, companies, and founders who wanted to join the efforts dedicated to the lonely elderly. The public was able to get invloved by sending an SMS with the text SINGUR (SINGLE) to 8844, which allows donating 2 euros per month.
The Margareta of Romania Royal Foundation would like to thank its partners, sponsors, and donors through the documentary created by Emotions Philms Production. Laurențiu Tomoroga, the director of this documentary manages to capture the loneliness of the elderly manifested through the acute feeling of alienation, and the impact of the support brought by the Fund for the Elderly which felt like a ray of hope into an often dark universe.
Documentary-video here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fs2vVsQVhW8
The Fund for the Elderly program continues in 2021 thus, contributions can be made by SMS to 8844 with the text SINGUR, donating 2 Euro per month. Companies can offer sponsorship directly in the account RO77BACX0000000129312250.
About the Margareta of Romania Royal Foundation
Founded in 1990 by Her Majesty Margareta, Custodian of the Romanian Crown, together with her father, King Mihai, the Margareta of Romania Royal Foundation is today an elite non-governmental organization that supports children, young people, and the elderly through sustainable interventions based on the exchange of experience and values between generations. The Foundation is one of the few non-governmental organizations that run social programs dedicated to the elderly through volunteers with an intergenerational approach. Since 1993, the Foundation has come to the aid of the elderly in Romania through projects aimed at combating isolation and loneliness and helping to increase their quality of life, such as the Fund for the Elderly, the Elderly’s Helpline, Generations Centers, Our Seniors, Seniors Club, Never Alone and Flowers for the Soul campaign. Thus, more than 180,000 elderly have received support from the Foundation over the time. More details on www.frmr.ro.