SVP inundated with calls for Christmas help
Published 07/12/2015 | 02:30
In the St Vincent de Paul office on Dublin's Seán McDermott Street, the simple act of a ringing telephone being answered can save Christmas from being spent in desperation, cold and hunger.
Now, they are ringing more than ever, with the charity's east region office - which covers Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow - taking between 600 and 800 calls a day from those in need.
That number is expected to rise further as December 25 approaches.
"A lot of people wanted to actually put their name down for Christmas assistance in October, that will tell you how the thoughts of Christmas are for them," said team leader Linda Kenny, who co-ordinates the region's helpline.
"In November, we took in 9,711 calls for just one month and 300 of those were first-time callers."
This is one of SVP's eight regional offices in Ireland, which overall have seen their calls up 100pc since 2009.
Details are passed on to volunteers in the region's conferences, who arrive to homes bearing lifelines for their occupants.
Volunteers never know what type of situation they will come across and the memories of some remain long after they were first encountered.
"I remember one woman calling me and all she wanted was a turkey and ham to make it Christmas," said Ms Kenny.
"Then you get someone else ringing and they haven't got a table to put food on.
"There's a lot of work involved in the society in making Christmas happen, it doesn't just happen. It's everyone working on the ground for this one day a year.
"It's such an important day. It causes so much panic and anxiety for one day a year."
The society is facing new challenges, with volunteers now visiting homeless families in hotels and B&Bs, which is a first.
Ms Kenny stressed the importance of funds to continue this level of dedicated assistance.
"I know for a fact that Dublin is struggling this year. We are struggling for funds and we do need them.
"Brendan O'Carroll has very kindly donated the ham and turkey vouchers again this year.
"He is a great support to the society."