Unemployed woman supporting family on €400 monthly benefits

Isabel Aguiar was working as a kitchen assistant, and was about to sign a contract, when the pandemic forced her boss to close the restaurant’s doors. She is now supporting her family of five with employment benefits amounting to just 400 euros monthly, Lusa news agency reported on Sunday.

Over the past year, she told Lusa, that was the only money she received for many months, since her husband stopped getting as much work.

“The lockdown came and people stopped working. He was on green receipts and suddenly he was left with nothing,” the 34-year-old woman told Lusa as she queued up to collect a food basket from the Food Bank Against Hunger (Banco Alimentar Contra a Fome) at a social centre in Lisbon.

Aguiar, who is one of roughly 390,000 people who get food from this association across the country, said she was thankful for the support she received from the Food Bank Against Hunger. 

With schools closed, the mother of three young children saw her supermarket bills go up considerably, because her children stopped having lunch and snacks at school.

“They spend more time at home and also eat more, in addition to spending more electricity because of the computers”, Aguiar explained. 

Aguiar’s family even considered moving from the capital to Beira Alta, where her parents live and where, she believes, life would be easier.

In the past year, the number of unemployed people registered at employment centres in Portugal increased by around 100,000, according to figures by the Institute of Employment and Professional Training released in January, according to Lusa.