In hard times we still need to give

I’m going to take a break from all this giving out. I know, I know, bit of a shock, especially seeing as we had a Budget this week and all. But you know what, much as I love a bit of a rant, sometimes you need to take a time out.

And sometimes it’s important to reflect on who is really being affected, and instead of ranting, think about how we can help them. Every Christmas we hear so many distressing stories about families not being able to cope. So many go without every year, and we all know it’s especially hard around this time of the year. This year, unfortunately, it seems to be harder than ever. More of us are in need of charity from the likes of Simon and St Vincent de Paul, but in a cruel twist of fate, fewer of us are of sound enough financial footing to help others.

St Vincent de Paul is just one of the many organisations across the country whose aim it is to aid those on the poverty line. The society is the largest voluntary, charitable organisation in Ireland. Its membership of 9,500 volunteers throughout the country are supported by professional staff, working for social justice and the creation of a more just, caring nation. This unique network of social concern also gives practical support to those experiencing poverty and social exclusion, by providing a wide range of services to people in need.

With a budget of approximately €56 million in 2008, funding is raised by corporate and public contributions, internal collections, and Government support for projects tackling social exclusion. Members make a contribution towards their administration cost at each weekly meeting.

The aim of the St Vincent de Paul is to tackle poverty in all its forms through the provision of practical assistance to those in need.

The concept of need is broader than financial hardship, so visiting the sick, the lonely, and the imprisoned form a large proportion of the society's work.

The society operates in small groups called conferences which meet regularly, and their work is usually concentrated on local visiting. 

However over the years, the SVP has responded to social changes, providing a range of additional services depending on the prevailing need. Today, these special works include shops, resource centres, providing accommodation to vulnerable people, and various holiday schemes among other things.

It’s a lot for one organisation to take on. There is no doubt they do trojan work across the Midlands.

And I know no one is minted these days, and that the majority of us have barely enough for ourselves, without thinking of charitable donations.

But perhaps on December 26 you’ll hfind yourself with some presents that you don’t need. Or a few arty dresses that you might not be fitting into this festive season that could possibly cheer someone up. Money-wise we may not be comfortable, but I’m sure we all have some clothes and toys from our days of excess that we don’t need.

If one simple donation could put a smile on someone’s face, someone who maybe can’t see a silver lining or the light at the end of the tunnel, well, wouldn’t it be worth the tiny sacrifice?


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