One of the ‘most difficult’ Christmases in years in store for many families – SVP

Charity said expected requests for help to exceed numbers in any year in recent past

One of the “most difficult” Christmases in many years lies ahead for thousands of families, the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) has warned. Photograph: Getty

One of the “most difficult” Christmases in many years lies ahead for thousands of families, the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) has warned. Photograph: Getty

 

One of the “most difficult” Christmases in many years lies ahead for thousands of families, the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) has warned.

Announcing its annual Christmas appeal the charity said it expected requests for help to exceed numbers in any year in the recent past, adding they came at a time when church gate collections had had to stop and the society’s charity shops had had to close, dramatically reducing its fundraising capacity.

In addition bringing help to people has become more difficult as home visits must be restricted.

National president, Rose McGowan, said since January there had been almost 112,000 requests for help. “With Christmas approaching we expect that number to increase substantially and exceed 160,000.

“When Christmas comes around, we all have to make lots of choices: ‘What presents to buy?’; ’What food for the Christmas dinner?’ but for those who struggle to make ends meet there are additional, sometimes impossible, choices: ‘Do I borrow or go without?’; How can I make Christmas a happy time for my children and pay the bills?’; ‘Do I buy essentials or heat the house?’

“Low income families are struggling to keep their heads above water with an unstable housing market, high childcare, energy and education costs,” she said.

Announcing its regional appeal, the charity’s south west branch based in Cork, said it was getting a “staggering” 200 calls a day for help.

Regional President Paddy O’Flynn said it was “more important than ever” that people who could afford to, supported its work.

Rather than donating at church gates, people are being asked to donate online, by post or over the phone and will be able to direct their donations to a specific locality should they wish.

“This will enable those who may previously have donated to their local SVP conference /[/branch/]/ at a church-gate collection to donate online or over the phone to that conference instead,” said Ms McGowan.

There will be SVP insert-envelopes, coloured blue, in newspapers, churches and delivered to homes, making donating easier.

Donations can be made online at svp.ie; by phone on 0818 176 176 (Republic of Ireland) or 028 9075 0161 (Northern Ireland) and by post to SVP, PO Box 1234, Dublin 1 or directly to regional offices with addresses found on www.svp.ie. Cheques should be made payable to: Society of St Vincent de Paul.

The charity is appealing also for vouchers which can be exchanged for food or gifts including toys, book, music or clothing.