On the edge

By Audrey SomnardLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

In a country as wealthy as Luxembourg, social disparities are increasing more than elsewhere. With housing prices soaring and the cost of living high, recipients of social assistance or the working poor are increasingly in need of help. Spending a little time in a social grocery store, it's all the other side of Luxembourg that can be seen.

A few weeks before the end of the year, the cold weather sets in, the bills pile up and people who are struggling the rest of the year have to redouble their imagination to keep the festive spirit. Launched in 2009 to alleviate the financial crisis, the social grocery stores of Caritas and the Red Cross have gradually been established throughout the country. In addition to the distribution of hot meals for the most destitute, organized by associations such as the "Stëmm vun der Strooss", these small stores are intended to allow beneficiaries to do their shopping almost normally. A way to allow them to remain autonomous, in dignity. A real help for families who are struggling to make ends meet and who spend a large part of their budget on rent.

With his wife, Stéphane has a hard time making ends meet with a rent of 1,600 euros per month: "I am not someone who asks for help easily, but I must say that we had reached a point where we had no choice. The rent is really too expensive but what can we do? The social grocery store gives us a break."

He is pushing the shopping cart while his wife fills it with basic necessities. Packets of cereals, canned food, some fruits and vegetables, cleaning products, the basics are there for the couple who have two teenagers at home. Stéphane arrived from France when he was 5 years old and has been living in Esch with his wife for 8 years. They have been going to the social grocery store for two months, after hearing about it from their relatives. When asked if he has a job, Stéphane answers that he works for the municipality, proudly showing his polo shirt with the colors of Esch. How is it possible that municipal employees are eligible for the social grocery store? Stéphane explains: "In fact I am a Revis beneficiary, but I work at the commune, at the stadium, I have a 40 hour a month contract".

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