Gerry Garvey, SVE South West Regional Co-ordinator; Paddy Kevan, SVP Tralee Areas President; Breda O’Dwyer, SVP Killarney Area President and Paddy O’Flynn, SVP South West Regional President at the launch of the annual car draw. Photo: Brian Lougheed

SVP: ‘Toughest Christmas in decades’

A charity working in Cork has said it’s facing its most demanding Christmas and winter period in several decades.

St Vincent De Paul (SVP) said people are being forced to choose between heating their homes or feeding themselves or their families this year.

With the cost of living crisis deepening, the charity is reporting that more people than ever are seeking help in the run up to the festive and winter season, with 1,150 calls for help per week (a 30% increase on last year).

This is expected to reach a peak of 1,400 calls per week in December as the Society has revealed significant numbers of people in Cork and Kerry are reaching out to them seeking assistance as they struggle to cope with sky-high energy costs, increased prices for fuel and dramatic rises in the price of food.

The figures were released as SVP launched its Annual Car Draw this week, which is the key fundraising drive for SVP South-West across Cork and Kerry. It has again been extended to Kerry this year and funds generated there will be used to support people in need in Kerry.

Speaking at the launch of the SVP South-West Annual Car Draw, SVP South-West’s Regional Co-ordinator Gerry Garvey said: “We have received an unprecedented number of calls for this time of year and from all walks of life, including but not limited to, pensioners and social welfare parents, carers and those on disability payments, and those on lower-paid employment.

“Energy costs are the primary concern for callers, with SVP providing fuel assistance to families and vulnerable individuals in Cork and Kerry during the winter months.”

In addition to supporting families, in the run up to and throughout the festive period, the charity continues to provide up to 4,530 homes across Cork and Kerry with regular coal deliveries throughout the winter.

Regional President Paddy O’Flynn said: “The numbers of people who require our assistance this year is unprecedented, people are being forced to make an impossible choice this Christmas – heat or eat, and the funds raised from the Annual Car Draw this year are vital to us to enable us to help as many people as possible.

“We depend on the generosity of our many donors and we’re asking them to support us once again, if at all possible, in the coming weeks.”

Mary Frances Behan, South-West Regional Vice President and Area President for North County Kerry echoed Mr O’Flynn’s comments: “We remain committed to ensuring that all families and individuals who need our help will be supported irrespective of the challenges that we face. We are now back to visiting people in their homes, which is the essence of SVP - providing support and friendship as well as practical supports such as vouchers and energy support.”

To enter the Annual Car Draw, see Alternatively, freepost SVP envelopes can be returned in or dropped into the SVP Regional Office at Ozanam House, 2 Tuckey Street, Cork. The final date for entries will be 12 noon on Friday 6 January.