Tuesday 17 September 2019

Big surge in numbers of 'the new poor' who are seeking help from St Vincent de Paul

Helping hand: Father Sean Donohue distributing food parcels at the Capuchin centre
Helping hand: Father Sean Donohue distributing food parcels at the Capuchin centre

Conor McCrave and Fiona Dilon

The number of people contacting the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) for help this Christmas looks set to exceed previous years' figures.

SVP has been running its annual Christmas Appeal in a bid to raise funds to support the thousands of people who call looking for help in the lead-up to the holiday season.

Financial donations have remained on a par with previous years, but SVP has seen a "marked increase" in the number of food and toy donations this year.

In spite of the continued public generosity, staff and volunteers have warned that the volume of people contacting the charity for help has risen, causing concern for a group of people dubbed by volunteers as "the new poor".

"Early in the winter, we were predicting we would receive about 50,000 calls for help over the winter," SVP national president Kieran Stafford said.

"This may very well be exceeded in the new year as we have already received 45,000 requests since November 1. Calls are remaining consistently high."

People in need began queuing as early as 5.30am yesterday outside the Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin for food parcels to get them through the festive season.

More than 2,700 hampers were handed out by a team of volunteers at the centre on Bow Street. That is a slight increase on last year's figures.

Recipients walked away with two plastic bags, one with meat, including a cooked turkey, ham and chicken, and a breakfast pack with rashers of bacon, sausages and pudding.

The other bags contained dried goods, including cereals and tea.

"The demand is huge," said manager Alan Bailey, who paid tribute to the generosity of people who have donated to the centre.

Last week, 400 children attended a Christmas party at the centre, which has seen nearly 250 families queuing for nappies and baby food every Monday.

Irish Independent

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