Food Parcels Provided As Mallow Reaches “Crisis Point”
"SVP volunteers regularly see bare food cupboards, empty fridges and children who are forced to go to bed with empty stomachs.”
That shocking description of life in a major county town in North Cork was described by the President of the town’s SVP Conference as “truly frightening”
"Heating is also a huge problem. In one house, the children had to go to bed at 7.30 p.m. as the parents could not afford to heat the house. Going to bed was the only way that they could keep warm," according to the President of the Society of St.Vincent de Paul in Mallow, Pat Murphy. It was once a town with busy factories, employment and a strong economy in an agricultural area, but in recent years has been hit by factory closures, including the ending of the sugar beet industry and consequent unemployment.
“Volunteers undertaking visits to households in the area have come across some heart-wrenching situations as the recession puts families under unbearable financial pressure. Things are reaching crisis point. People who would never have come to us in the past are now seeking our help. They are literally coming to us hungry and we , are giving them food parcels," said Mr.Murphy who is President of the Blessed Virgin Mary Conference in Mallow and a long-time member of the Society of St.Vincent de Paul.
With nearly twenty years’ experience of SVP work, he said there had been a “huge increase” in the number of people seeking help so far this winter and he expected that would continue to increase. Financial problems faced by families had also resulted in a 10% rise in the number of requests from parents seeking financial help with school and college expenses. These problems were also being experienced in communities across the rest of the North Cork region.
"There is no question but the situation has been getting worse over the past couple of years as the recession deepened. With the raft of cuts in the Budget, things are only likely to get worse. It is so sad and depressing to see families caught up in this grinding cycle of poverty," he added.
"The people of Mallow have been wonderful over the years in the way they have supported our voluntary work. Now, more than ever, their help is invaluable to the families who need it most.”