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Austria: Vienna, Caritas’s winter campaign to support its two homeless shelters

For 30 years, “Die Gruft” (The Crypt), the most famous Caritas homeless shelter in Vienna, in the very central Mariahilf district, has offered “street people” safe shelter and lots of human sympathy for 365 days a year. All day long, volunteers offer hot meals; homeless people can have a shower, find clean clothes and the chance of a safe bed, as well as support in their attempts at social rehabilitation. But the rise in unemployment and the endless inflow of migrants and refugees (with a peak in 2015) led Vienna’s Caritas to open a second “crypt”, in the Währing district, 5 years ago. To coincide with 2016 Advent, a winter campaign is launched in support of the two homeless shelters that is championed by sportsmen and celebrities: two players of Vienna’s rival teams, Steffen Hofmann of Rapid Vienna and Robert Almer of Fk Austria Wien, will be the faces of the campaign, where people can buy 50-euro packages to provide sleeping bags and a daily hot meal. “Help is more important than ever: in the crypt last winter over 116 thousand hot meals were delivered overall – says the national president of Caritas Austria, mgr. Michael Landau –, but the number of people looking for advice and support has increased”. The “Crypt winter package” offers “emergency aids, making homeless people’s lives a little bit easier to bear”.

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