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Charity dishes up 600 meals a day to growing poor

One of Dublin's leading homeless centres gave out 600 meals a day over Christmas to cash-strapped families.

The Capuchin Day Centre, which is one of Dublin's leading homeless centres in the north inner city, doubled the number of meals it gave out to people this Christmas.

The numbers appealing for food and money increased this time on last year too, according to city charities catering for the poor.

Difficult

Brother Kevin Crowley, of the Capuchin Franciscan Order, told the Herald that the centre gave out an average of 600 meals a day during the Christmas period this year, and he saw "a new poor" queueing at the doors for food.

"We'd have about 200 meals in the morning and between 400 and 430 in the afternoons," he said.

"The recession was beginning last Christmas, but now the numbers have doubled on last year. We're not necessarily feeding the homeless. We're feeding people who are finding it difficult to make ends meat, and our numbers are big all the time."

Brother Kevin said the centre was full everyday during the Christmas period, and it did not refuse anyone a free meal.

"It's very sad that so many people are looking for help," he said. "The numbers have got much bigger. We've a new poor. People coming to us now are at risk of losing their homes."

He added that the centre had a sufficient number of volunteers throughout Christmas, but it cannot afford to expand its service to three meals per day.

Meanwhile, appeals to St Vincent de Paul Society for food, fuel, and Christmas presents increased by 20pc this Christmas, especially since the cold snap hit the country.

A spokesperson for the charity said: "We're far busier than last year. We're up 20pc in terms of the number of calls for help across the country.

"People are struggling to come to terms with a lot of problems, and fuel is a big issue.

"This new year in particular, with the cold snap weather, meant that additional fuel was ordered in for those that needed it."

The charity is now bracing itself for a busy month, since it anticipates a massive spillover of Christmas bills to increase the financial strain families are experiencing.

"The lead up to Christmas was much, much busier than the previous year and we're expecting January to be busier in terms of the number of calls we get," the spokesperson said.

"The fallout from the Budget and from Christmas will mean that we'll be very busy. People will have got themselves over Christmas with all the extras involved and they'll be just picking themselves up again."

hnews@herald.ie


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