Rise in calls to St Vincent de Paul


Calls for help to the Society of St Vincent de Paul have risen by 83 per cent since 2009, the organisation said today.

The charity said that its offices in Dublin, Cork, Galway and the mid-west received 88,072 calls for assistance from members of the public in 2011, compared to 48,064 two years earlier.

These numbers refer only to the requests for assistance through the organisation's main centres and do not include individuals who contacted the charity through other regional offices.

Almost a quarter of all calls the SVP received last year related to appeals for help in getting food, while a further 16 per cent sought assistance in covering bills and energy costs.

The average amount for electricity bills recorded by the organisation's regional offices in 2011 was €563, while the average for gas bills was €510.

Research carried out by the Society of St Vincent de Paul last year found that fuel poverty was becoming an increasing issue for many with some older people reporting that they were going to bed early in the evening to avoiding rising bills.

Other requests for assistance related to rent, home repairs, furniture, beds and bedding, kitchen supplies' clothing, transport and education costs.

Approximately 60 per cent of the calls for assistance were from households with children and about 27 per cent were first-time callers to the charity.

Irish nationals accounted for 87 per cent of calls for assistance made in 2011.

In 2010 the SVP spend €9.8million in helping people put food on the table, another €8.8 million was used to assist with energy needs and €4.4 million on education-related supports.

“The number of incoming calls for assistance is continuing to increase, by 35 per cent in 2011. This highlights the national context of recession, including cuts to social welfare payments and child benefit, increased unemployment and underemployment, problems with debt and the increasing poverty rate”, the organisation said.

Volunteers with the charity made an estimated 150,000 visits to homes across Ireland in the run up to Christmas and the Society of St Vincent de Paul was forced to issue a new urgent appeal due to the "horrendous" increase in numbers requiring its support.