St Vincent de Paul (SVP) is marking Poverty Eradication Day (17 October) by calling for more support to help the local organisation assist those in desperate need within communities across Northern Ireland. With no devolved government currently in place, SVP is noticing a marked increase in those seeking its support, which could be the result of a lack of advocacy at legislative level.
Brendan O’Neill, Regional President for SVP, comments: “Some people in Northern Ireland are facing the depths of poverty every day and, due to the political situation, there are no opportunities for groups to campaign on their behalf at governmental level.
“We have seen an increase in families and individuals contacting SVP asking for help with the basic necessities since this time last year. 31% of those we have supported in the last year have needed help with food, 21% needed assistance with fuel and 16% required household goods, such as chairs to sit on or a table from which to feed their families.
“Many of those whom we support are unemployed single parents living alone in rented accommodation, surviving on basic benefits. In some cases they have to choose between heating their home for their children and feeding them; a choice no-one should have to make.
“Our network of volunteers makes hundreds of visits per week to families and individuals, offering a shoulder to lean on and a helping hand, where possible. What they see can be shocking and is leading to raised levels of frustration as, SVP believes, there should be activists proactively speaking up for those in need and, indeed ,a platform from which to do so.”
With changes to the way in which benefits have been paid already introduced in Limavady that will be rolled out to the rest of Northern Ireland, the lack of an active devolved government acting on behalf of local people, is becoming even more ostensible.
Brendan continues: “With the introduction of Universal Credit, we will evolve and adapt to continue to fulfil the vital role that we play in providing support to those in need within local communities, as we initially did when the scheme was introduced in Limavady. However, our network of volunteers is becoming even more stretched as increasing numbers of people are calling for our assistance.
“As an organisation, through our Conferences (groups), we work with those in need, irrespective of creed, ethnic or social backgrounds, health, gender or political opinions, in local areas. This includes paying weekly visits to people as well as carrying out a wide range of activities and support across the province, such as crèches, breakfast clubs and the management of 32 Vincent’s shops.
“We have 1800 volunteers currently supporting our work and sadly, with limited resources and a lack of government backing our work, there is a limit to the number of people that can be helped. SVP does what we can, when we can and we will continue to make a difference to whomever we can help.”
“Our hope for Poverty Eradication Day 2017 is that governmental stability can return soon, which can offer us opportunities to speak on behalf of those in desperate need who are, currently, without a voice that can engender any positive change.”
To find out more about St Vincent de Paul NI, please email call 028 9035 1561 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.