Nenagh Saint Vincent de Paul Appeal
A sum of €5 from every advert sold in the Nenagh Guardian's two special Christmas supplements will be donated equally to Nenagh Lions Club and St Vincent de Paul, who point out that for some people hard times are experienced all year, not just at Christmas
The number of people in our local community seeking to put food on the table or heat their homes – if they have a home – is greater now than ever, according to Harry Martin, the President of the Nenagh conference of the Saint Vincent de Paul.
The war in Ukraine and the cost-of-living crisis is putting unprecedented pressure on the Society to help individuals and families who are barely struggling to cope, says Mr Martin.
Exacerbating the situation for the local branch is the fact that half of its volunteers have retired or indeed passed on in recent years, while others have left because of the increasing demands on the organisation due to rising workloads.
This has prompted the conference to issue appeals for new volunteers through the Parish newsletter and in an advertising campaign in this newspaper. “If anyone is interested in helping out as a volunteer we would very much like to talk to them,” says Mr Martin. “The work is falling on too few of us all the time now and it’s hard to get people to become involved because there are a lot of aspects to the role of a volunteer.”
On the day Mr Martin spoke to this newspaper he was at his desk drafting letters that will be issued to various companies, schools and other organisations seeking donations.
He said it’s vital that the conference can support those in need, especially over the Christmas when the demands are greatest, but pointed out that contributions were needed every week of the year.
“People are looking for help all the time and we find that the cost-of-living crisis is particularly hitting older people in society. At present we really do not know what the full impact of this crisis is going to be, nobody really knows what’s around the corner.”
Even before the current crisis the local conference was under pressure to meet demands, but in the past year those seeking help has increased even more.
The influx of Ukrainian refugees to the locality put extra pressure on scare resources, while the conference also helps out asylum seekers, many with young children, who are forced to live on subsistence while their applications are being processed by the State.
“We have to try and help wherever we can, and we find that there is a big mix of people seeking assistance all the time,” says Mr Martin.
He adds: “Demands are increasing in a climate of fear where people don’t know what they are facing down the road. All they know is that the price of everything is going up and many of those we help don’t know anything about budgeting and then they find themselves short of money.”
Mr Martin said the demands by people on the conference to help tide them over the festive season started a couple of months ago. “That’s something we would not have seen in past years – people are nervous and they don’t know what to expect in the current climate of uncertainty.”
He said the role of Saint Vincent de Paul was not to judge those seeking help. “We are here to help people to the best of our ability, and we must do the best for people no matter where they come from or what their situation is.
“Apart from trying to help asylum seekers, we find that there are many young Irish parents with small children who have fallen on hard times due to issues such as high rents and some of them just don’t know where to turn for help.”
Contributions to the local conference can be made at its two charity shops in Nenagh, through special envelopes available in local churches, or through Loretto House in Kenyon Street.