Barcelona shops set up network to get supplies to at-risk customers

Businesses in two city center neighborhoods launch scheme in which volunteers safely deliver shopping to people confined to their homes

Head of the Association of Shopkeepers of Poble-sec and Paral·lel, Manel Tort (by Blanca Blay)
Head of the Association of Shopkeepers of Poble-sec and Paral·lel, Manel Tort (by Blanca Blay) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

March 17, 2020 12:52 PM

Getting supplies when you are confined to your home and you belong to a group most vulnerable to coronavirus is not easy, but some shops in central Barcelona have set up a scheme in which volunteers will deliver shopping to those most at risk.

Shops and locals in the Poble-sec and Paral·lel neighborhoods of Barcelona are forming a network that at-risk people can phone and order their shopping, with local volunteers delivering their order according to a series of safety protocols.

The head of the Association of Shopkeepers of Poble-sec and Paral·lel, Manel Tort, says "the response has been spectacular" and he explains that the shopping is placed in two plastic bags, with the volunteer taking away the outer bag after delivering the order.

As for payment, Tort says that for the moment the priority is delivering the orders, but that as each one is recorded, he trusts the customers will pass by the shop to pay for the supplies once the state of alarm is over.

While the scheme is only just up and running now, it has already received its first few orders, and Tort explains that he has already been thanked by one of his fish shop's frequent clients: an elderly man who no longer leave home at ease.

Volunteer network

Mireia Milian, who is one of the scheme's volunteers, says they have divided the neighborhoods into 5 areas, with a coordinator sending people to different locations based on need.

"We've been spreading the message by putting up signs at different shops, building entrances, in the street… to give it more visibility and so the people that need it can have access to help," Milian told the Catalan News Agency.

Foundation calls for public spaces to take in homeless

Meanwhile, Arrels, the foundation that helps people who are forced to sleep on the street, has proposed opening certain public places, such as some civic centers and sports centers, to take in homeless people.

According to the foundation, the state of alarm has made it "even more" difficult for people who sleep on Barcelona's streets, while the current emergency situation due to coronavirus has turned attending to them into a "challenge."

"Will new spaces be opened up to offer a safe place to all those people who sleep rough? What will happen if one of these people tests positive and needs somewhere to recover," asks the foundation.

Arrels also calls for hotels in Barcelona and nearby towns to take in homeless people, as well as asking local authorities to take over private centers that normally provide accommodation for homeless people but that have been closed due to the crisis.