The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SVP ) has recorded an almost 20 per cent increase in calls for help in the first quarter of 2021.
SVP national president Rose McGowan said: "Apart from requests for help with food and energy bills an additional difficulty for many families the past year has been the cost of ensuring that their children have the IT capabilities for dealing with home schooling. Requests for help for online learning costs, such as laptops/tablets, followed by broadband, have been very common."
Other reasons for the increase in calls to the Society for help are increasingly from the ‘working poor’ who have seen a dramatic change in circumstances and are not entitled to the benefits those on long-term welfare may receive.
Other reasons for requests for help include: parents being under significant financial pressure trying to make sure their children have everything they need going back to school; because many shops designated non-essential are closed, we have heard from individuals and families moving out of homeless accommodation and into new homes but without access to bedding or cooking equipment as they cannot shop online.
Of particular concern are people whose jobs or businesses have closed and they have no money left after they pay their rent or mortgage; many households discovered winter lockdown has brought increased worry about paying high utility bills and many families are unable to afford to keep the fridge stocked as food bills increased with the children home all day.
Rose McGowan also said that the increase in the number of calls for support combined with the dramatic reduction in income resulting from the closure of its network of 234 shops and the absence of church gate collections has put significant pressure on the SVP resources. By removing this source of inexpensive clothing and other goods from those who cannot afford to regularly shop from high end retailers is very frustrating when some large retailers are allowed to sell some level of clothing,” said Ms McGowan.
A volunteer with the Society stated that if people do wish to donate, they should donate to registered charities, not individuals begging, as they have the expertise in assessing need and can make sure your donations go where genuinely needed.
The same goes for donating old clothing; put your old clothes in the clothes banks around town, rather than leave them at your front door for ‘faceless’ groups to collect. Income from clothes donated to SVP clothes banks (Breaffy church, Stauntons Pharmacy car park and Castle St car park ) is spent within the community.
Although home visitations have been curtailed because of Covid restrictions, support is still being provided by the SVP. The SVP has supported people in hardship for 200 years in Ireland and is as committed as ever, said the volunteer, adding, “We always welcome enquiries from anyone wishing to volunteer.”
For help in the Castlebar area call (094 ) 9023207, for other areas visit www.svp.ie