Calls to St Vincent de Paul society up by fifty per cent

A local charity, which reaches out to the needy, received more than 3,000 calls for help last year, a 50 per cent increase on 2010.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul, which spends more than €1 million a year helping people in Galway, is urgently seeking donations in a bid to help people in “severe financial difficulties”.

City mayor Cllr Terry O’Flaherty, who launched its annual fundraising appeal this week entitled “Your help is vital” - which includes door-to-door and churchgate collections together with music and craft events - has a strong family association with the charity because her late father Larry, was an active member for years.

As the recession continues to bite, the organisation says it is helping a growing number of people who are “new to need”.

Speaking at the launch Michael McCann, area president of SVP, said the importance of this appeal can be judged by the fact that the local charity spends well over €1m a year on direct assistance.

“The bulk of this amount goes to helping families, children, those living alone, young and old with food, energy and education costs.

All the signs are that demand for SVP services will continue to rise as the recession deepens, with an increasing number of those seeking help who are new to need, and facing their personal, financial or emotional crisis in isolation and feeling terribly alone.”

He urges these people to remember that they are not alone. “Whether you are struggling with the mortgage on your home; are using money lenders by choice, or through lack of choice; are behind on your energy bills or are seeking employment - in Ireland today you are definitely not alone,” he said.

Between now and the end of this year SVP volunteers will visit homes throughout the city and county. They will give support in many ways.

“In some cases it will just be a comforting shoulder to lean on or advice on where to go for professional help with a specific problem. In many, many cases it will be to ensure that children have a toy under the Christmas Tree or that the families have sufficient food, heat and light to get over the ‘festive’ season.”

Mr McCann says Galway people are generous in spirit. “We in the Society of St Vincent de Paul experience this generosity every day. We are hopeful that the public’s generosity will continue even stronger in the coming weeks. The money raised in Galway is used locally and this annual appeal will support our work between now and year end and well into 2013. It allows us to continue our work, which is dedicated to helping the weakest and most vulnerable in our society. This means not only providing practical support but encouraging self-sufficiency and campaigning for social justice.”

How to help

* St Vincent de Paul volunteers will carry out door-to-door and churchgate collection from December 3 to 17.

* Donations of toys can be made through the 2fm Toy Appeal or by arranging a Giving Tree in your local school or workplace. Money, toys and food can also be donated at Ozanam House, St Augustine’s Street, Galway.

* This year SVP will also hold a number of fundraising events in the run-up to Christmas. The SVP Christmas Concert takes place on Saturday December 1 at 9pm in the Radisson Live Lounge. Tickets cost €10 and performers on the night include

Marc Roberts

Johnny Faulkner

Peter McLoughlin and Band

Regina Rogers School of Ballet

Galway Gospel Choir

Mary Murray and Friends from Trad on the Prom

Marian Ni Chonghaile Sean Nos Dancers

The Amazing Apples will be on stage in Monroes and the Hard Core Priests at 8pm in support of SVP with tickets costing €10.

*A Christmas Craft Fair will be held in Croí na Gaillimhe Resource Centre, Mill Street on Saturday November 24 from 10am to 1pm. There will be a a number of knitted items on sale, including scarves, gloves, tea cosies, handmade Christmas decorations and homemade cakes and chutneys.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul is based at Ozanam House, St Augustine Street and can be contacted at (091 ) 563233.

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