SVdP appealing for your help to make a difference this Christmas
Charity will spend more than €40,000 helping 400 local families this December
"You can help save someone from a life of poverty". That is the simple but heartfelt theme of this year's St Vincent de Paul seasonal appeal, with the charity once again calling on people from the Mallow area to dig deep and help shine some light into the lives of people in need.
Speaking to The Corkman Noirin Brennan, the president of the St Vincent de Paul’s (SVdP) Mallow Conference, said they expect to spend in the region of €40,000 during the month of December alone helping some 400 families in the parishes of Mallow, Killavullen, Ballyclough and Burnfort.
"This is up on the figure for last year, showing that in spite of constantly hearing that Ireland has a buoyant economy, the most vulnerable within our society have yet to see the benefits of that," said Ms Brennan.
The December spend will bring to more than €200,000 the amount that the conference will have spent this year helping families to cover the cost of basic items that the majority of us take for granted.
"Despite general improvements in the wider economy, we are still finding the need in Mallow still remains high, with many families just surviving from week to week," said Ms Brennan.
For example, the Mallow conference distributes in the region of 50 bags of food each week to local families in need, at a cost of around €25 per bag - equating to a cost of around €70,000 per year.
The conference has also spent in the region of €50,000 on heating (coal and oil) and around €25,000 on educational needs (school books and clothing) during the course of this year.
"We believe that education in particular is one of the key ways for people to escape the cycle of poverty," said Ms Brennan.
The remaining annual spend is made up through various different expenses that families incur but simply to not have the finances at their disposal to cover.
Ms Brennan said that while there have been modest increases in social welfare payments, these have for the most part been absorbed by increases in heating costs, rising rents and the ongoing struggle for families to meet educational costs.
She said it was not just those on social welfare with low incomes who are struggling each week to make ends meet, pointing out that two income families whose earnings fall above the threshold for a medical card are also struggling to survive under the constant pressure of mortgage repayments, taxes, health insurance, childcare and numerous other expenses.
"Unfortunately, in the Mallow area today, for too many people it can take one bill or a small problem to tip a family into crisis and poverty. People become poor through a lack of resources and find themselves excluded from the ordinary living patterns, activities and customs within society," said Ms Brennan.
"It can be an illness or unexpected bill that pushes a family beyond their financial limits, but we know that a little help can stop the domino effect for a family experiencing prolonged hardship," said Ms Brennan.
She said that despite the ongoing generosity of the local community, the conference is finding their resources are "increasingly stretched" trying to support those who need their help the most.
"This year we are making a large effort to distinguish between need and want and while we are committed to supporting the needy in what ever way we can, we have a responsibility to use our resources wisely on behalf of those who contribute to SVdP and ensure fairness between competing demands for help," said Ms Brennan.
"We have a duty to deal with those seeking help in a non-judgemental way and depend on their openness and honesty."
She said none of this would be possible without the ongoing generosity of people from the Mallow area and the local business community.
"There are many examples of large and small donations - all of which have made an immense difference. Simply put, we could not do what we do without all the generous contributions we receive on a weekly basis, and especially at Christmas, from the people of the Mallow area," said Ms Brennan.
"Our sincere thanks go out to everyone who has helped in any way to help shine some light into the lives of those who need our help the most."
People can contribute to the SVdP appeal through the church gate collection in Mallow this coming Sunday, by leaving donations at the Oznam Centre in Mallow or by contacting 022 50188 or 086 269 3571.