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‘Somebody needs to care about them’
MORE than 50 of the 250 families in the outlying areas of Paphos who volunteers say need urgent help, have had their electricity cut as they are unable to pay their bills, it emerged yesterday.
The volunteer group headed by local businesswoman Pavlina Patsalou and Paphos councillor, George Sofokleous, who also owns a hairdressing salon, issued an urgent plea earlier in the week to help the families involved but they can only do so much.
Sofokleous, said: “I spend most of my time trying to find food and clothing for about 250 families in Paphos who have big problems. Somebody needs to care about these people- at the moment it’s only us.”
The volunteers started the programme around 18 months ago, helping around 20 families. This number has now mushroomed to more than 250 and is increasing on an almost daily basis.
The councillor said most are without work, some have large families with five children or more, some are without homes and others without electricity. He said that one of the families has been living without electricity for more than two weeks.
“If you don’t have money it’s not possible to pay the bills. There are about 50 families who are trying and failing- every month to pay these bills. The electricity authority often says ‘pay half now and half next month’ but it’s impossible for these people to find any money if they don’t have work. We are trying to do whatever we can to help-but it’s very hard and the electricity board can’t help at the moment.”
A spokesman at the Electricity Authority in Paphos said yesterday he was unable to comment and the EAC spokesman in Nicosia was unavailable.
A growing number of families and individuals, who have become victims of the economic crisis, live outside the boundaries of Paphos municipality and therefore don’t qualify for help from the social welfare fund, or they are receiving a small amount of benefits, which isn’t enough to cover even the basic needs, yet disqualifies them for help from the municipality.
Due to the growing numbers of people desperate for help, and the amounts of money which the group needs to raise, they are opening a dedicated bank account next week and filing all of the relevant documents with the state to ensure it’s all legal and transparent.
“Some people are donating food or clothes and some are giving money. When we receive anything, Pavlina and I immediately go and purchase goods to give to the people,” said Sofokleous.
According to the councillor, it costs a minimum of around €3,000- €4,000 a week to just feed the 250 families.
“Once we have filed all of the paper work we will organise some fund raising events to help, but for now we need help from the residents of Paphos as well as local businesses. This problem is affecting the entire community and we all need to come together to help each other,’ he added.
While the Cyprus Mail was at Pavlinas’ children’s clothing store yesterday, she received a telephone call she had been anxiously waiting for.
“I’m so pleased that the landlord of the empty shop next to mine has given us the space rent free for an initial period of time and then after that at a greatly reduced rent. We will be able to store all of the food supplies here,” she said.
The businesswoman is currently storing all goods at the back of her shop and Sofokleous stores all donated clothes in an apartment above his hairdressing salon ‘George and Effie’. Patsalou assured that the new shop would be cleaned and organised by last night and ready to receive goods as of this morning.
The volunteers will have a drive at Carrefour in Paphos tomorrow between 9am-1pm, which they are hoping will be a success. They plan to purchase items such as milk, cheese and other goods which will immediately be passed on to the needy families.
Patsalou added: “We are helping all sorts of people. There are some young families in their early twenties with small babies. They don’t have work and their parents are not in a position to help. There are also some elderly people in their seventies.”
The volunteers give out food boxes when they can; some families are in dire straits and are given food parcels twice a week.
“I passed through some hard times myself, like many others and I feel for these people. Today a lady came with seven children, she asked for help and we must do what we can,” said Patsalou.
Daily donations of food and clothes are being accepted at Pavlina Children’s Clothes shop and George and Effie’s hair salon from 9am-7pm.
Contact Patsalou at 99 220 152 or Sofokleous at 99542343