A local charity which is dedicated to tackling poverty and disadvantage in Galway spends more than €1 million a year on direct assistance. And the St Vincent de Paul charity says that despite the signs of economic recovery calls for help to the organisation show no sign of decreasing.
The bulk of the charity’s yearly spend is used to help families with food, energy and education costs.
Speaking at its annual Christmas appeal entitled “Your yes can last a lifetime” which was launched by the Mayor of Galway city, Councillor Noel Larkin, the organisation outlined that SVP members continue to make about 18,000 visits a year. These are to local homes to provide assistance for a myriad practical, emotional and psychological problems.
The reliance of thousands of Irish families on the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP ) has remained consistently high over the past five years, according to Belinda Mullen, its Galway area president. The numbers show no sign of decreasing in any significant way.
“We depend entirely on donations from the public and corporate donors for this work and thankfully the generosity of the people of Galway to SVP over the years has been outstanding. We hope that the response to this year’s annual appeal is equally generous,” she said.
Speaking at the launch, she stated that most of those who seek support from the charity are struggling week in and week out on a basic minimum income, either from State payments or from low-paid employment.
“It is when they encounter an unexpected cost or a period when additional expenditure occurs, such as Christmas, that is when they critically need support. We’re glad to see the economic indicators that things are improving,” she said, “but we are still seeing that there are many people with problems ranging from not having enough food to not having the money to keep the heating on, worrying about the lights and the next gas bill and their children going to school.”
She outlined there was still “a spirit of helplessness” among many families seen by the society’s volunteers every week.
Between now and the end of this year SVP volunteers will visit homes in the city and county. They will give support in a variety of ways. In some cases, it will just be a comforting shoulder to lean on or advise on where to go for professional help with a specific problem. In many cases it will be to ensure that children have a happy Christmas or that families have sufficient food, heat and light to get over the “festive” season.
Belinda Mullen says the money raised in Galway is used locally. “This annual appeal will support our work between now and year end and well into 2017. 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.”
The SVP appeal campaign will take place from November 27 to December 11 and will include door-to-door and church gate collections. Donations of toys can be made through the Aldi 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 Street, Galway.