Charity helps thousands rebuild lives shattered by joblessness
WHILE home visits are at the heart of the Society of St Vincent de Paul's mission, the charity also helps thousands to rebuild self-esteem, re-skill, or simply instil a sense of belonging in their community.
The SVP has six resource centres countrywide -- in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Kerry and Mayo -- which reach out to those who have suffered setbacks in their lives.
Ozanam House in Dublin is the largest of the centres and caters for over 600 people every week -- 90pc of whom are unemployed.
The SVP registered close to 75,000 calls from families in need in the greater Dublin area in 2013, a massive rise from 17,000 calls in 2006.
In addition to making regular house visits and meeting demand for food, fuel and other essentials, the organisation's 11,000 strong army of volunteers are also working to keep up the additional services the resource centres provide.
The Irish Independent has partnered with the SVP and is appealing to our readers to give the charity whatever help they can this Christmas, even if that is just their time.
"We cater for everybody here -- our eldest member is 96 and our youngest only two years old; but approximately 68pc of our service users are adults, so they come here with a purpose," Tony Rock, manager of Ozanam House, says.
The resource centres operate as a year-round focused service, in order to maintain routine and consistency for both its members and volunteers.
"People are engaging with one another daily and rebuilding some part of themselves effectively, so consistency is key here because that's why people come here," Mr Rock said.
"There has been a significant rise in the amount of people coming to us for help over the past couple of years and a lot avail of our service for adult education and use it as their stepping stone before returning to full-time education."
The team at Ozanam House say that lack of self-belief is a major obstacle for the people that come to them, often as a result of job loss.
"A lot of the volunteers notice in families from the home visitations that they might need computer skills, or realise that their social skills are low, or just that different aspects of their lives might need help of some kind and that could be rectified or improved upon with a class."
In addition, they provide childcare facilities, youth programmes and community programmes.
"Many older people in rural areas are in complete isolation in between home visits, so that need for social contact would be met here, as we run a number of groups.
"We see ourselves as operating for the community at large and what's unique about the service is that we also have seven full-time staff," Mr Rock said.