‘People are scared’, says Castlebar Vincent de Paul as it asks the public to be generous in this year's appeal

The SVP in Castlebar is making a particular request for a generous response to their upcoming Annual Appeal as they highlight that they are now helping people from all walks of life to get through difficult times.

The Christmas 2022 appeal will be by way of a blue envelope delivered to every house in the Castlebar and surrounding areas, with envelopes explaining various options for donating.

The charity documented what it says "are real stories of real people, and not from so-called Third World countries, but stories SVP members all over the country are hearing."

Castlebar VdP stated: "As if life isn’t unbearable enough, a young mother who has worked all her life, now abandoned by her husband, is forced into a rent increase of €500 per month. She has to take a week off work due to illness. She claims sick pay and, because she cannot claim two social welfare payments together, her Working Family Supplement is stopped. That would be fine, except the Department didn’t reinstate it for many months! If she works extra hours to try to cope, she will lose her HAP (housing assistance payment )! Who will help her and her child?"

The charity continued: "Councils put a cap on the amount of rent they accept for HAP. It’s usually too little, so many tenants are compelled to pay a significant amount to their landlord from their meagre income to supplement their rent with cash ‘under the table’, leaving them below the poverty line every month. Who will help?

"A worker, who is now spending twice as much to drive to work these days, is distressed due to a large increase in their mortgage repayments. Worse still, further increases are promised. He is also despairing at the thought of increased electric bills. Who will help?"

The answer to the question “Who will help?” - is the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP ).

“It’s what we do”, said a member of Castlebar SVP. “We volunteers have been answering that question for 200 years; we are not perfect, we are not professionals, but we are good at it.

“Things are bad out there. One week in October Castlebar SVP increased its food hampers – fresh fruit and non-perishable items – by 100%. Requests for help have increased 20% each year for the last three years”, said the local volunteer, adding: “This is unheard of. I was in the bank during the week and the teller said: ‘I’m inundated the last few days with people panicking about their mortgages going up. Then add €50-€60 to each shop . . . People are scared,’ she said to me.”

The Castlebar volunteer added: "The problem is the working people are not used to asking for help and they are now the working poor. For people on welfare, the money at least keeps coming through so that is some kind of security. Then housing is the other main problem because a lot of people are told to get out by a certain time - but where do they go? We also get a lot of people who just fall between two stools, such as mental health services and social services, who are not really getting all they need. Some people just don't cope and they need support."

Without a church gate collection over the last few years, the annual Christmas appeal is how the local volunteers will be able to answer the question as to, who will help? - but only with your help. All donations are used locally. As well as donations, the SVP welcomes new members.

For more information about their work, visit www.svp.ie


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