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St Vincent de Paul volunteers braced for massive rise in families asking for help

VOLUNTEERS in St Vincent de Paul are bracing themselves for a massive rise in calls for help as families dealwith the full impact of Budget 2012.

SVP national vice president John Monaghan told the Herald that their church gate collections this weekend will be of vital importance, for putting food on tables around the country on Christmas day.

The changes to social welfare payments like rent supplement, fuel allowance, the drugs payment scheme, the back to school clothing and footwear allowance, the one parent family payment and changes in the cost of school transport and student maintenance grants, will have a huge impact on people's ability to maintain a reasonable standard of living, he said.

"In 2011, the number of calls increased around Dublin and Cork by over 40pc. Since 2008, the number of people calling us has doubled. So the amount we'll have to give this year is a lot more.

"Last Christmas, we were helping people to the tune of over €100,000. This year it'll be closer to €150,000. We've had calls mainly coming from families with children, for help with food, gas, oil, and Santa presents.

"From the Budget, there have been huge cutbacks introduced. Single parents are now down €500 a year, which is €13 a week. For a family with three children, they're down on the children's allowance for the third child."

He stressed: "The consequences of the Budget are going to be grossly felt. We thought it was bad before, but now when we're putting out appeals for fundraising, we've had to use the word 'urgent'. I can only see even more people being forced to come to us. The church gate collection this year is so important.

"We want to make sure Santa Claus doesn't forget a single child in this country. When the tree is down and the lights are down, and it's very cold and dark in January, problems can seem insurmountable to people," he added.