MORE than 130 appeals for help were received in just one day by volunteers of St Vincent De Paul on Tuckey St, Cork.
Statistics compiled by the charity show that during Thursday of last week 132 people reached out to the charity for support ahead of the Christmas season.
Of that figure, 64 presented to the centre in need of food supplies and nappies; 35 people were seeking energy support in the form of fuel, coal, and gas; 14 people were looking for support with daily travel costs, and 19 callers sought help with utility bills.
It is estimated that the organisation will deliver 2,600 food hampers in the run-up to Christmas, representing just a portion of the 8,200 hampers gifted to people in need on an annual basis. Some 6,000 gifts and toys will be distributed as well as 2,000 bags of coal.
St Vincent De Paul’s regional vice president Paddy O’Flynn said that while the figures might look high they are reflective of demand at the centre.
“For the month of October alone the charity received 1,513 requests for help,” he said.
“Public perception is that our economy is booming and ploughing ahead. We have practically full employment but in our experience very little is changing from one year to the next.
"Charles Dickens wrote in A Tale of Two Cities back in 1856: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’. When he wrote that line he could have been talking about this year.”
“There are two economies in this country and they are operating in parallel,” said O’Flynn.
“It’s the best of times for people who are doing very well. It’s also the worst of times for those who are suffering in poverty.
“Cork does not escape this. Our Christmas Appeal means asking the public for help, either financial or otherwise, to relieve poverty for people in a practical way. This focuses on the people who are in need, excluded, or lonely.”
He urged Corkonians to donate to the cause, adding: “We are dealing with the same level of poverty we were before, perhaps a little more due to rent increases and homelessness. You would be surprised at the kind of people who come to our hatch and at times very sad. To see people smiling and so appreciative is great.
“The public at large and the generosity of Cork people is superb.”
Mr O’Flynn said that it won’t be just homes the charity will be visiting this year but emergency accommodation as well.
“Not all of the Christmas help will be delivered to the ‘traditional homes’ of years past because there are now too many people without the luxury of a place to call home,” he said. “Some have lost their homes as a result of dramatically increased rents, rising mortgage arrears, and low-paid employment. Some have come from other areas and countries as a result of war and oppression.
“These people in need will be visited by our volunteers in hotels, guesthouses, homeless hubs, and other centres, with some depending on shelter provided by their families and friends.”
The charity will hold church gate collections on December 7 and 8.
- For details on how to donate, visit www.svp.ie.