'New poor' pack into centre in search of a square meal
THE 'new poor' are sending the queues for meals spiralling at a vital homeless centre.
Families in which the main breadwinner has lost his or her job – some on the verge of losing their homes – are visiting the Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin's north inner city for meals and food parcels.
Before the recession took hold it was mainly people who were homeless or living in hostels that were accessing the centre for a hot meal each day.
"We'd see a lot more families now," Brother Kevin Crowley of the Capuchin Franciscan Order said.
"We have a new poor, those who have lost their jobs and are on the verge of losing their homes." He explained some were paying for their housing and bills, with little then left to put food on their tables.
On a typical day, between 10 to 15 children access the centre with their families for meals.
The number of people accessing the services has increased steadily each year since 2007.
Now volunteers at the centre serve up breakfast to around 200 people, with 450 to 500 seated daily for dinner.
Each week, the centre hands out around 1,800 bags of basic store-cupboard supplies – this multiplied from 500 a few years ago.
In 1969, when the centre first opened its doors, around 50 people were fed each day.
"The numbers have been increasing every year," he said.
"For 2013, with the volume of people coming at the moment I've no doubt the volume will increase even further. We never have to turn people away. There is a quick turnover. Once people have their dinner, they then move off as they know there are others waiting outside to come in."
It now costs around €2m to run the centre each year – up from €1.2m in 2010. Around €450,000 is provided in government funding with the rest generated through donations from the public and sponsorship from businesses.
"The people are very generous, businesses are good to us and many different people make collections in their own work place. Different firms donate foodstuffs as well. We have to be very careful what we take in that it meets regulations and is in date," he said.
In addition, the centre provides hot shower facilities each day for around 20 to 30 people living in hostels or on the streets and offers access to a nurse and doctor.
Brother Kevin said they would be unable to run the service without the high volume of volunteers who cook and serve up meals, and a chiropodist and optician who provide care free-of-charge.
More information on the centre can be accessed through their website www.homeless.ie or by calling 01 8720770.