Budget will make no difference, says Penny Dinners charity

What has been done merely a ‘drop in the ocean’, says woman running service

Caitriona Twomey of Cork charity Penny Dinners. “The budget doesn’t seem to be about bringing hope, which is what it should be.” Photograph: Provision

Caitriona Twomey of Cork charity Penny Dinners. “The budget doesn’t seem to be about bringing hope, which is what it should be.” Photograph: Provision

 

Two people who have been fed daily by the Cork charity, Penny Dinners have died in the last week. One more is in a coma. Four died during one week in July, says Caitriona Twomey

Budget 19 will make no difference, declares the woman who has run the charity for more than a decade. Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe’s efforts are , she says simply, all about maintaining the status quo.

Penny Dinners today serves some 2,000 freshly made meals per week to the homeless, or those suffering with addictions, but also those who have a roof, but not the other resources to live.

Before the recession, it provided 150 or less per week prior to the recession: “The budget doesn’t seem to be about bringing hope, which is what it should be,” says Twomey.

‘Moving forward’

“It should be about us as a people moving forward. We have had two deaths this week and there is one we know of on life-support at the minute. The system is failing plain and simple.”

The focus should have been on tackling addiction and mental illness, and on solving homelessness. Instead, what has been done is merely a “drop in the ocean”, she complains.

“ If we put 5,000 houses out there in the morning and housed 5,000 people by the time they are built or allocated there are seven or eight thousands [more] on the list. It means nothing.

‘Saving lives’

“ Lets get in there. Lets build these houses. Lets start solving issues. You are talking about saving lives and saving families. It is also about saving health because leads you downwards. It is a spiral.”

Besides feeding people at its James Street headquarters, Penny Dinners distributes food-hampers around Cork city to those in need. Often, the supplies are “the difference between people surviving or going under”.

“You have no idea how appreciative people can be to receive basic foodstuffs,” says Twomey, particularly in situations where pensioners and young children are vulnerable.