The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) has launched an urgent fundraising appeal on Thursday as it expects calls for help in the coming weeks to escalate.
Calls to the charity for the first quarter of 2020 were at their highest level for over a decade, it said.
The Society of St Vincent de Paul helped over 160,000 people and families last year and had expected that figure to rise by about 10 per cent in 2020.
However, it now believes that figure will be “well exceeded” as people find themselves struggling financially as a result of losing their job or living on reduced income due to restrictions in place limiting the spread of Covid-19.
The Society of St Vincent de Paul said its income has “drastically reduced” due to the closure of its 234 shops and the cancellation of church-gate and shopping centre collections. It is now seeking support from the public to deal with the expected increase in calls.
Kieran Stafford, national president of the charity, said the past few weeks have been "the most difficult" he has ever known in over 20 years volunteering with SVP.
“Low income families have become no income families overnight as they wait for state supports to come through and calls to SVP for the first quarter of 2020 were at their highest level for over a decade,” he said.
“Thousands used to earning a regular wage are depending on the temporary Government subsidy or the Pandemic Unemployment Payment but that will eventually come to an end. In the past two weeks, we have had more calls from families worried about the rent and without savings to keep them afloat. And those already struggling on an inadequate social welfare payment will struggle even more. When this is over, many will still be trapped in a cycle of poverty.”
Mr Stafford said while physical visits to homes, emergency accommodation, hospitals and prisons have been halted the charity has been working online, by telephone and by post to provide support to those seeking help.
“Many calls are seeking help with food and energy bills. In most cases we are able to supply vouchers and work with utility companies on their behalf. Many other callers just need to speak to someone about their circumstances and in those cases we are there to listen or help them find other appropriate services,” he added.
Donations can be made through www.svp.ie, by calling 0818 176 176 or by post to Society of St Vincent de Paul, 91-92 Sean McDermott Street, Dublin 1.