A SVP delegation has informed the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Social & Family Affairs of a dramatic increase in the number of calls for assistance to the Society since 2008.

Increase in calls to 13 regional SVP offices

source – www.svp.ie

Since 2008 the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVP) has seen a dramatic increase in the number of calls for assistance it receives. In the first five months of this year the SVP Dublin region experienced an increase of 37%, Cork was up 53%, Galway City up 46% and the Mid West up by 20%.

The figures were presented to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Social & Family Affairs today (14 July 2010) by an SVP delegation.

John Monaghan, National Vice-President, SVP said that these figures only represent calls coming directly into its regional offices.

“Many more calls go directly to local groups (SVP Conferences) including calls for assistance from schools and referrals from Community Welfare Officers”.

He also told the Committee that SVP volunteers contribute 2 million hours of voluntary work and make over 400,000 home visits in a year.

He called on the Government to resist making further cuts on the rates or services provided to Social Welfare recipients and he said that 25% of Irish households are living on incomes of €20,000 a year or less, while 50% of households are on incomes of under €40,000.

“We see some new and emerging needs which may be as a result of the recession (e.g. mortgage difficulties, delays in accessing social welfare payments, recent job losses, pay cuts or reduced working hours) but these account for only a small proportion of the all the needs people present with at the 13 SVP Regional Offices. Typical requests made to these offices are for help with food, fuel and atypical household expenditure such as communions and confirmations, and also at back-to-school time and at Christmas”.

Newly in need

Most SVP visitation groups are seeing some form of increase in people ‘newly in need’ contacting them for assistance and note the shame, panic and stress they meet among these people, said John Monaghan. “In terms of dealing with new needs Conferences are able to provide assistance with utility bills, food vouchers, education expenses and other basic needs but are not in a position to help with the payment of large debts and mortgages. A significant proportion of Conferences refer people on to MABS for further assistance.

“We are aware that there are people reluctant to ask for assistance from the Society, perhaps because of embarrassment, but we are anxious to do what we can to listen, advise and offer practical help. We provide assistance in confidence, maintaining the dignity of those involved and being sensitive to their needs”

Most of the people being assisted by the SVP are in receipt of long-term social welfare payments. About one in four calls each month comes from someone who has not received SVP assistance before. Lone parent households are the main household type requesting assistance. Between 15-20% of calls each month come from foreign nationals. The 18 SVP homeless hostels also provide accommodation to foreign nationals, many of whom do not have access to social welfare or rent supplement due to the Habitual Residence Conditions.

Loss of Christmas Bonus

In a recent survey over 80% of SVP Conferences felt that the removal of the Christmas Bonus in 2009 had a negative effect on the people they assist. While the loss of the Christmas Bonus was well flagged, it nonetheless had a significant impact on households. “This Christmas the SVP is concerned about having to fill the gap again, or that money lenders will do so”, said John Monaghan.

Public support is up

“The SVP is spending more helping people in need, but thankfully the public continues to support us. We had a huge response as a result of the flooding last year. The trend so far this year suggests that donations to the SVP are up on last year. Donations through our website are up 25% in the first 4 months of the year in comparison to the same period in 2009”, said John Monaghan.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is the largest, voluntary, charitable organisation in Ireland. Its membership of 9,500 volunteers throughout the country is supported by professional staff working for social justice and the creation of a more just, caring nation. This unique network of social concern also gives practical support to those experiencing poverty and social exclusion, by providing a wide range of services to people in need.

South Midlands Region

South Midlands Region
Address Ozanam House, Abbey St, Naas, Co.Kildare
Telephone 045 888925
Fax 045 888925
Email info@svpsouthmidlands.com