The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) has reported that it received approximately 15,000 calls for help during March with Covid-19 measures cited frequently by callers in the last week of the month.
“There have been some harrowing messages received with a lot of people experiencing stress, anxiety and dealing with social isolation,” said SVP national president Kieran Stafford.
The reasons cited for calling SVP for help included:
* People in precarious or part time work who have been temporarily laid off and are struggling to pay the bills even with State support.
* Lone parents socially isolated and who are struggling to pay for gas, electricity and food as a result of school closures
* Single adults living alone, with health condition and in receipt of disability payment, worried about isolation and being able to pay the bills.
* Pensioners living alone at home all day and who can’t afford to keep their homes warm.
* People who had to give up work to care for vulnerable family members.
Mr Stafford said; “We are continuing to work with and advise government through the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, as well as utility companies, on ways to alleviate the worst effect on those struggling financially, in particular lone parents who have been finding the additional cost associated with children out of school, isolation, reduction in employment and creche closures.
“We are also working with the HSE, Department of health and other organisations such as the Local Authorities oversight group and many of our members are active in local community support groups which have been formed around the country..”
Calls to SVP since the Covid-19 restrictions were put in place have not increased significantly but this is as a result of SVP offices and shops having to close and requests for help confined to telephone, online and post. However, across the country requests for help are up on average by 10 per cent for the first three months of the year, as over 44,000 people have reached out to the Society for help with basics like food and fuel. SVP fear that the impact of the pandemic will be most acute for individuals and families already living in poverty and that they will be joined by thousands more in the coming weeks, as the unemployment rate is expected to reach 17 per cent.
To assist people make contact SVP has published telephone numbers and email details of its Regional Offices, which are available on its social media channels.
Help can also be requested through its website: svp.ie/requesthelp
“We are also extremely grateful for the donations we have received from members of the public as our shops and church gate and general collections have stopped,” said Kieran Stafford.