Wed, Feb 16, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Social workers make cash payouts to people in need

ASSISTANCE With the relevant welfare offices closed over the Lunar New Year holiday, the Ministry of the Interior made on-the-spot payments to 32 needy people

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of the Interior issued a total of NT$278,000 in cash payments to 32 individuals in desperate financial need over the Lunar New Year holiday, officials announced yesterday.

The amounts ranged from NT$3,000 to NT$20,000, depending on the degree of assistance needed.

"After receiving calls for assistance through our helpline, social workers were sent to visit families in need. Cash was given out to the family on the spot if the social worker considered their situation to be very urgent and desperate," said Chien Yuan-lung (簡原隆), an official with the Department of Social Affairs.

The service to provide immediate financial assistance is available throughout the year at various village and township district offices. However, as these offices were closed over the Lunar New Year holiday, the ministry replaced the service with a 24-hour helpline.

Of the 32 individuals who received financial assistance between Feb. 6 and Feb. 13, when the helpline was open, 12 faced urgent medical situations, seven needed money to bury family members who had passed away, four were injured in car accidents, four suffered loss due to fires, two became homeless and one faced a problem with domestic violence.

"In cases of domestic violence, when a battered wife comes out of the hospital after a medical check-up, she is often left to her own devices and is usually penniless. And that's when the government steps in to lend a hand," Chien said.

A total of 33 individuals were visited by social workers over the holiday, but only 32 received cash payouts.

According to the ministry, the one person who did not receive any money had called the helpline because he had not received his social welfare reimbursement in time for the Lunar New Year.

According to figures released by the ministry, a total of 497 calls were received on the helpline, of which 465 consisted of inquiries regarding social welfare services for middle- and low-income families or regulations on such services.

After the Lunar New Year holiday, people in need can apply for financial assistance with their local city or county governments, or with their district offices. The local governments will redirect individuals to the ministry for further assistance if needed.

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