THE head of a Cork charity said that business owners are turning to her for food hampers after being hit by pandemic restrictions.
Caitríona Twomey from Cork Penny Dinners said they are already seeing self-employed people struggling to afford food due to the effects of Covid-19 on their businesses.
She confessed that the offshoots of the global pandemic are like nothing the charity has ever seen before.
“Business owners are coming to us asking for food hampers,” she said.
“The self-employed people I’m talking about aren’t in business to become rich. They are in business to create a home, pay bills and reap the awards of their hard work. These aren’t businesses that are suffering. These are families. These are children. It’s the people who are taking the hit. Those in government will still be on huge salaries. It’s the ordinary homes that are being affected."
Ms Twomey said that new grants should be made available to business owners struggling through the pandemic as part of Budget 2021.
“There is no filter for the heartache anymore,” she said. “We are talking to people who had to operate as take-aways. In the end it just wasn’t viable for them and they were forced to shut down. Their way of life has gone and the future is uncertain for so many.
Ms Twomey added: “Their way of life has gone and the future is uncertain for so many. My question is “how many small businesses are the government prepared to lose before something is done?” People can’t be hurt any further. Budget 2021 needs to be a safety net budget. Nobody should be left behind.” She spoke of how charities are being forced to fill the gap left by the Irish government.
“The chefs are cooking non-stop, far beyond what has ever been experienced before. People can’t be without food so we are doing everything we can to keep going while keeping ourselves safe. Problems are escalating and growing into something much bigger. The government needs to take this in hand very quickly.” She pointed out that businesses are reducing the last of their stock help the charity in spite of their overwhelming heartbreak.
“We are experiencing a number of people coming to us to donate the last of their stock before closing down. They’re coming to us with a huge smile on their face, knowing that they are able to do some good. However, it’s not difficult to see that behind those smiles is a lot of pain.” Ms Twomey added that the banks should also be playing their part in helping the country’s recovery.
“For many the €350 Covid payment wasn’t enough. Some have mortgages that were almost that much every week. Self-employed people hit by the pandemic should be given interest free loans. They need to be given a break of a year. The country bailed out the banks. Now, it’s time that the banks bailed out the country.” According to Caitríona tackling homelessness should also be made a priority by the government.
“Homelessness has been around for a long time. At this stage we don’t need a solution. We need a cure. A roof isn’t enough for people to start a life with. What they need is a home. We are yet to experience a government who has left us with a legacy. That’s exactly what we should see with Budget 2021. They need to show us the way back. We deserve this, not as a country but as a nation of decent people.”