More people have been requesting help with food, fuel and white goods than last year and those faced with impossible choices, who are faced with financial difficulties every day of the year, will be in need of assistance for placing presents under the Christmas tree so their children do not wake up to an empty Christmas.
Speaking about the dire situation some families are finding themselves in, Mary Waide, Regional President of St Vincent de Paul, North Region, said: “We are receiving more calls than we have experienced in recent years and more requests via our website from people who would not normally speak out and seek help.
"As well as taking more than 1,000 calls in our Belfast office alone last week, people have also been contacting us by email, phoning our Derry office and calling our almost 100 helpline numbers in local communities across Northern Ireland.
"Some people are finding themselves being faced with the decision of whether to put food on the table, heat the home or buy presents for their children as Christmas approaches. While a third of children are living in poverty in Northern Ireland, we are not just being asked for help by people trying to make ends meet on low incomes, we are also receiving requests from people who have been plunged into poverty and are living in extreme pressure due to rising energy costs, an increase in the cost of living, the reduction in Universal Credit and the impact of the pandemic.”
Mary added: “At the time of year when we remember Christ’s birth and which should bring joy and create magical memories for children, parents are struggling and in the depths of despair. I would appeal to the generosity of our local people in communities across the province to make a donation to SVP to help their neighbours. We are accepting phone and online donations this year so SVP can provide families with vouchers, empowering them to prioritise what they choose to buy.”
Paying tribute to the dedication of SVP members, volunteers and staff for their incredible support, Mary said: “I would like to thank all those involved in ensuring that families receive the help they need. For the empathy they possess in ensuring that the needs of those requesting assistance from SVP are met with dignity.”
SVP is an international charity and the largest voluntary charity in Ireland. SVP members in Northern Ireland work in all communities to support people whatever their background, who are experiencing poverty and social exclusion, promoting self-sufficiency and working for social justice.
Every year SVP spends approximately £3 million to help those experiencing poverty in Northern Ireland. Last year, SVP responded to tens of thousands of calls for assistance from members of the public.
To receive help from SVP, please visit www.svpni.co.uk.
If you would like to make a donation to the SVP Annual Appeal, please call SVP on tel 028 9075 0161 or visit www.svp.ie/nigifts.