It is all very well for the Government to speak about an improving economy, and there is no doubt that Irish exports are up, domestic demand has begun to recover, and we are enjoying the kind of growth not seen for years.
However, a rising tide does not necessarily lift all boats, and there is a danger that we could be seeing a sizeable group of people left behind in the recovery. Many are the so-called ‘new poor’, hitherto middle-class individuals who worked hard to buy their own homes and are now overwhelmed by debt while trying to pay big mortgages on low incomes.
The Society of St Vincent de Paul, which launched its annual appeal yesterday, reveals that hundreds of thousands of people are still seeking its help and the numbers involved has doubled in the past five years. Calls for assistance to SVP show no sign of dropping significantly, and calls are up more than 100% on 2009. “Despite the fact that the economic indicators are showing that things are better and we are glad to see that, there is still a spirit of helplessness among many people,” Tom MacSweeney, SVP vice president, told RTÉ.
Between now and Christmas, its 11,000 volunteers will visit 40,000 homes. The fact they are still helping 400,000 people a year shows the extent of poverty still prevalent in Ireland. Since 2009, SVP has been spending €40m a year on helping those in need. The good news is that the charity still receives widespread public support, even in these challenging times.
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