Kieran Stafford: 'Help SVP be there for children left behind this Christmas'
Despite the improvement in the national economic figures, our volunteers in the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) expect to visit and provide help to some 50,000 families over the winter.
This is the same number as last year and yet we are all supposed to be better off than 12 months ago.
Those families we visit will need help and support with putting food on the table, keeping their homes warm, making Christmas special for their children, paying rent and dealing with a whole host of problems. These can be as varied as finding the money for the transport to a hospital appointment to requests for a voluntary contribution from their children's schools.
The families visited by SVP are just a fraction of the number of people with an inadequate income and consequently living in poverty. Almost 800,000, according to CSO figures.
Poverty in Ireland in 2018 takes many forms, and is primarily driven by low income and lack of access to good quality jobs and affordable housing, health, education and childcare.
'Save someone from a life of poverty' is the theme of our Annual Appeal this year. The campaign emphasises the effect of poverty on children and their future.
Prof Jeffrey Sachs, a UN special adviser, recently said failure to invest in children dooms them for life.
Poverty is a trap. One that is difficult to escape from.
It is a set of circumstances that can affect anyone. Being in poverty does not mean that you do not want to work, that you are any less intelligent than others, or that you don't have dreams. Often you need someone to help you break out of that trap.
Next year we will celebrate 175 years serving the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities. The work we do is only possible with the continuous support of the Irish people and for that support we are very grateful.
We appeal to those this Christmas who may be feeling a little better off to remember these children who have been left behind and please support the SVP Annual Appeal.
Kieran Stafford is national president of the Society of St Vincent de Paul