The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) has launched an urgent fundraising appeal today, as it expects calls for help in the coming weeks to escalate
Last year SVP helped over 160,000 people and families and had expected that figure to rise by about 10 per cent this year.
But now it believes that figure will be well-exceeded from new people who find themselves struggling financially as a result of losing their jobs or living on reduced income due to the necessary restrictions to combat the spread of Covid-19.
With the SVP income drastically reduced from the closure of its 234 shops and the cancellation of church-gate and shopping centre collections it is now seeking public support with an urgent appeal for funds to allow it provide for the increased volume of calls it is expecting.
Donations can be made through www.svp.ie by calling 0818 176 176 or by post to Society of St Vincent de Paul, National Office, SVP House, 91-92 Sean McDermott Street, FREEPOST, FDN5235, Dublin 1. DO1WV38. All donations can be directed for use in your local region, county or town as it is not possible for SVP to carry out local collections at present.
In launching this urgent appeal Kieran Stafford, SVP national president said that in over 20 years volunteering with SVP the past few weeks have been the most difficult he has ever known. “Low income families have become no income families overnight as they wait for state supports to come through and calls to SVP for the first quarter of 2020 were at their highest level for over a decade.
”Thousands used to earning a regular wage are depending on the temporary Government subsidy or the Pandemic Unemployment Payment but that will eventually come to an end. In the past two weeks, we have had more calls from families worried about the rent and without savings to keep them afloat. And those already struggling on an inadequate social welfare payment will struggle even more. When this is over, many will still be trapped in a cycle of poverty,” he said.
Mr Stafford also said that to compound matters energy costs have increased this month. We are also entering the time when families are facing heavy education costs and particularly hard-hit have been students from low-income families struggling to keep up with their school work without the necessary technology to do so,” he said.
“SVP has been working very hard to continue our support for the many people seeking help over the past weeks. While our physical visits to homes, emergency accommodation, hospitals and prisons have been halted we have been working online, by telephone and by post to provide support to those seeking help.
“Many calls are seeking help with food and energy bills. In most cases we are able to supply vouchers and work with utility companies on their behalf. Many other callers just need to speak to someone about their circumstances and in those cases we are there to listen or help them find other appropriate services.
“For 175 years SVP has worked in solidarity with Irish people who sought its help. We have always been there for those who are vulnerable and those struggling financially. And we continue to do so during the current crisis. But when it passes we will need help in terms of donations and new volunteers,” he said.
Helping people in need in times of crisis is not new to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. It is the best-known and most widely supported organisation of social concern and action in the country with over 11,500 volunteers and 1,200 Conferences active in every county serving the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities.
Since its foundation the Society has provided help and support to those most in need, through the Famine in the 19th century, two World Wars, an Uprising, a Civil War, cycles of economic austerity and, now a pandemic – Covid-19.