Monday 5 December 2016

SVP hostels try to cope with rise in numbers as Christmas approaches

Ciara Treacy

Published 15/12/2015 | 02:30

SVP Cork manager for homeless services John Calnan at the shelter. Photo: Daragh McSweeney
SVP Cork manager for homeless services John Calnan at the shelter. Photo: Daragh McSweeney

Visiting people in their homes is an essential service provided by the St Vincent de Paul (SVP), given the rise in numbers of people living in temporary accommodation.

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In Cork, two hostels operated by the society are about to exceed occupancy with the aim of reducing the number of rough sleepers for Christmas.

"The situation is quite challenging for us here," SVP Cork manager for homeless services John Calnan told the Irish Independent.

"In St Vincent's Hostel there are 74 emergency beds and Deerpark Hostel has 51 transitional beds, all for homeless men, with a significant waiting list.

"We are adding six beds in an office space in St Vincent's just to meet the demand, so we will be at 110pc capacity."

The surge in demand also presents new challenges for staff and volunteers.

"There was a man who owned his own business and in the downturn it all went and he was sleeping in his van before he got a bed.

"That was a person with no addiction or mental health problems, so it is new ground for us.

"Historically, we try to get people out after three months but due to the challenging nature of homelessness and the housing crisis, it is hard to get people out in that timeline.

"We have had huge support through the years from the public. Without receiving those donations, we wouldn't be able to provide the service that we do."

Phil Delanty is one SVP volunteer who has seen first-hand the stress experienced by those in homeless accommodation seeking its help.

"We usually visit people in homes so visiting families in hotels and B&Bs is a new phenomenon," she said.

"When you arrive you are in the foyer of a hotel, there is no privacy for them to voice their worries or concerns.

"We still respond, St Vincent de Paul will always respond."

How to donate

1. Go to www.svp.ie or give locally.

2. By cheque: To SVP, PO Box 1234, Dublin 1, made payable to Society of St Vincent de Paul National Council or direct to a regional office. Addresses can be found on www.svp.ie.

3. Pay direct to Bank of Ireland, Phibsborough, Dublin 7 to St Vincent De Paul Council of Ireland.

A/C Number: 80005599. Sort Code: 90-06-23.

4. Call the SVP National Office on 01 838 6990.

In addition to making donations directly, there's an array of options to support the SVP at www.svp.ie/ appeal.

These include a virtual gift store www.svp.ie/giftstore.

Irish Independent

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