The charity said that over 20,000 families have inquired about financial assistance to get through the Christmas period and nearly 14,000 have formally applied to the programme, with many more expected in the coming days.
Only 7,300 families applied for Christmas assistance last year, so this year’s figures already represent a whopping 85 percent increase.
Danish People’s Aid said that the yearly increase was “without comparison” the largest it has ever seen and has caught the charity completely off guard.
“This doesn’t look like anything we have seen before. We are surprised by the many applications we have received and that we will continue to receive ahead of the December 1st deadline,” the group’s general secretary, Klaus Nørlem, said in a press release.
Danish People’s Aid has collected and distributed financial assistance to families in need during the holiday season for the past ten years. Its primary target group consists of single parents who live off of public benefits.
Nørlem said that given the charity’s experience in previous years, there is very little chance that it will be able to help all of those who need it.
“It is crystal clear that there will be a record number of families whose attempts to receive Christmas help will be unsuccessful,” he said.
Last year, the charity could only help 5,400 families – roughly one third of the number who have applied for assistance this year.
The charity said that almost half of its record number of applicants have been directly affected by the reform of the unemployment benefit known as kontanthjælp. The government has capped the upper limit of the benefit, which has resulted in families losing out on as much as 3,000 kroner (around $425, €400) per month.
Danish People’s Aid gives 1,500 kroner ($215, €200) to recipient families in the form of a Christmas dinner package worth 500 kroner and gift certificates to the toy store Fætter BR and sporting good store Sportmaster, each worth 500 kroner.
The programme can be supported by sending a text message to 1999 with the word ‘Julegave’ to give a 150 kroner donation. Donations of any size can also be given via the charity’s website or through MobilePay at 5181 1112.