Crisis meeting as 20,000 appeal to SVP for help

MORE than 800 members of the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) attended a crisis meeting in Dublin at the weekend to plan ahead for tougher times.

Demands for the charity’s services have soared in recent months — more than 20,000 have appealed to its Dublin office so far this year, a figure that is up almost 40% on last year.

Dublin region SVP president Rose McGowan said the theme of the special meeting — Tougher Times, Tender Hearts — summed up the very real concern of members to help those with severe problems in a very practical and humane way.

“It would be too simplistic to merely respond with only food and goods,” she said. “We must make sure that those who need our help receive it appropriately and from a tender heart.”

Last year, SVP spent more than €12 million in Dublin alone fighting poverty in its many forms.

The charity provided food, fuel, clothes, encouragement and financial support for children and adults in their education to help them get out of poverty.

It provided hostel and social housing, community resource centres, youth clubs, good-as-new shops and other services.

SVP national president Mairéad Bushnell, who also attended Saturday’s meeting in Croke Park, said the organisation’s 3,500 volunteer members in Dublin were already visiting more than 6,000 homes a week.

Ms Bushnell said members expected even greater demands for practical support and personal assistance next year.

“That is why over 800 of our volunteers have given up this Saturday to look at how best we can meet the needs of those we serve,” she said.

Guest speakers were RTÉ’s economics editor, George Lee, and journalist and author, John Waters.

Mr Lee provided SVP members with a unique insight into how the developing national and international financial crisis will impact on the work of the society in the Dublin region.

He rejected the idea that everyone was in this economic downturn together — there were people who were responsible for running the economy, and not everyone was in a position to solve the problem.

He said the national 1% levy was a simplistic response.

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