Families who donated to SVP last year now desperately seeking help
SOME of the families turning to St Vincent de Paul for help were contributing to the charity just 12 months ago.
Over the past two years, the society has witnessed a massive surge in people needing help with basic bills and food purchases -- and the numbers turning to the charity has doubled since 2010.
John Monaghan, vice-president of the SVP, branded this year's annual appeal "urgent" as he warned the charity would surpass the €75m spent helping people in 2010.
Those turning to the charity for help include 'middle-class' families due to breadwinners losing their jobs, self-employed, carers, people on welfare payments and those working in low-paid jobs.
Around 10,000 volunteers are expected to make visits to around 150,000 people in the run-up to Christmas.
"The numbers have swollen as more people are losing their jobs. There are people who find it difficult to come to us. They may have been contributing to us this time last year," Mr Monaghan said.
He warned another worrying trend was the numbers of self-employed in difficulty as they often are not entitled to social welfare payments. "They are small in numbers but they are really in trouble. They have absolutely nothing," he said.
He urged the Government not to cut welfare supports as eight out of 10 people turning to them were on some type of welfare payment.
Mr Monaghan said that from their experience some older people who would have used the Christmas 'bonus' to pay bills in the winter were now finding it extremely difficult.
Calls to SVP regional offices doubled between 2007 and 2010. Appealing to people to donate what they could, Mr Monaghan said the charity would have enough funds to get through Christmas but was very concerned about early next year.
As the charity launched its annual appeal yesterday, bestselling author Marian Keyes donated €25,000 from the Irish royalties of her next book 'Saved by Cake'. The book is due to be published next February but the author wrote the cheque yesterday.
"I'm donating the money now, prior to Christmas, because our country is suffering such hardship and Christmas is the toughest time of year," Ms Keyes said.
The charity has also launched a massive toy appeal with RTE 2fm and SuperValu to ensure no child in need is without a present this Christmas.
Around €250,000 worth of toys were donated last year and the charity is hoping to gather double that amount this year.