Thursday 18 January 2018

SVP warns problems don't end when Christmas does

SVP national president Geoff Meagher in Kilkenny, Photo: Dylan Vaughan
SVP national president Geoff Meagher in Kilkenny, Photo: Dylan Vaughan

Ciara Treacy

St Vincent de Paul volunteers come to the fore at Christmas, but the charity has warned its work must not be forgotten all year-round.

Funds raised during its Christmas appeal also feed into the widening range of work the charity carries out, national president Geoff Meagher, said.

Mr Meagher told the Irish Independent that it was important not to forget its 10,000 volunteers and staff were as busy as ever come the first week of January.

"Unfortunately, all the problems don't stop on December 31. The problems are carried forward and additional bills like energy and rent only come afterwards," he said. "Despite the downturn, the public have been hugely supportive and I would like to thank the Irish people for the support to date on behalf of the society. Without them we couldn't do the work that we do."

The number of people with significant debt and those becoming homeless or at risk of losing their home were putting pressure on resources, he said.

"There is a public perception that austerity and the recession have gone away, but in terms of what we see in the society, and the complexities of the different problems we face, it has not," he added.

"What the society has been concentrating more on is to try and work with people towards self-sufficiency, whether this means working with MABS or other organisations. Volunteers are spending more time on quality visitation and working out the underlying issues giving rise to requests. Once they understand those, they are better equipped to help. It's about giving people back their dignity without charitable support.

"The real secret of what the society is about is people visiting those in their communities in a quiet, dignified way."

The society has also been working with young people, holding conferences in schools and third-level institutions.

"It is hugely important to have the enthusiasm of young people and they have that can-do attitude," he added.

Irish Independent

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