Vincent de Paul reports surge in calls from ‘a forgotten layer of society’Irish Times
St Vincent de Paul volunteers are at the coalface in the fight against poverty
Today, the Society of St Vincent de Paul( svp.ie) release its figures for the number of people who contacted its offices for help in 2012. For the first time the number of calls have exceeded 100,000; an increase of 104 per cent from 2009.
Once the calls come into any of the 13 offices around the country, volunteers will go out to offer help. Help takes the form of food vouchers, contributions to utility bills, school books, glasses for children, clothes, fuel, and sometimes simply a listening ear to those who feel unable to cope.
There are 10,500 Vincent de Paul volunteers around the State. Jimmy Scurry is one of them. For the last three years, he has gone out most Tuesdays with a partner volunteer to visit homes in Finglas, Dublin between 7 and 10pm.
“There’s a forgotten layer of society out there I didn’t know even existed until I joined the society,” Scurry says.
Some houses he indicates look neglected, with yards full of abandoned household items. Others are beautifully maintained, with carefully tended gardens. But if you were equating need with appearance, you would be wrong, because all of the houses he points out contain families in need that are visited by Vincent de Paul.
“It’s like a business in that there are cycles,” Scurry observes. “You know when certain things will happen. At the moment, it’s utility bills and requests for fuel. Then there will be confirmations, communions, back to school, Christmas. They are the key times of need during the year.”
“None of us are immune from the fact we may one day have to ask for help from the Society,” he points out. “If the network of volunteers weren’t there, who would bridge the gap between these people and what they need?”