One of Ireland’s oldest charities is in desperate need of Cork volunteers.

Charity in crisis

Without new volunteers in its Cork city locations, one of Ireland’s oldest charities said it is facing a crisis of never before seen proportions.

This Monday, Saint Vincent de Paul (SVP) will hold a membership recruitment evening at the Aula Maxima in UCC in an effort to rebuild its Leeside volunteer base after a challenging few years.

Whilst the organisation says it has been overwhelmed with the generosity and financial support from the public over the past 3 years, the restrictions associated with Covid have taken their toll on membership numbers.

The charity, which fights for social justice and supports people with food, energy and educational costs, invites people with all kinds of experience and talent to attend the recruitment evening.

SVP has volunteer roles in the areas of IT, finance, fundraising, housing, retail, education bursary, project management, training, logistics, driving, clothes sorting and preparation for sale, and welcomes people of all ages, genders and from all faiths and none.

The charity also welcomes volunteers who do not speak English or Irish as their first language to help their work with some of Cork’s newest residents.

Julie Anne Ramsell, SVP Vice President, Cork, said: “Some volunteers choose to stay and help within the area they live in, while others would rather move to an area where they know nobody, and with 41 conferences in the Cork area we can facilitate that.”

Within the greater Cork area calls for assistance to the regional office during the past 12 months increased by 20% to 16,500. In that time, SVP volunteers looked after 1,400 families every month with up to 5,000 families being looked after in the pre-Christmas period.

Ms Ramsell continued: “We have volunteers who visit and assist those in their homes, those who assist those in prison, some who make up boxes of food to support families struggling with food poverty, others who work in our holiday home to offer a week’s holiday to children who may otherwise never be able to go on holiday, and those who volunteer within our social housing.”

SVP volunteer Kate Durrant added: “It’s heart breaking seeing people struggle, but I cannot describe the satisfaction of being able to ease that load a little, knowing that children are going to bed with full stomachs and that breakfast will be there for them when they wake up.”

Rose Adair who, among other responsibilities organises training for new volunteers, said: “Education is another area where SVP makes a huge difference, enabling young people to stay in school and continue their education by providing financial and pastoral support, and practical help too such as travel tickets. We forget that sometimes it’s the very basics like not having the bus fare that can cause someone to fall through the cracks.”

“With the housing crisis at the forefront of everyone’s mind it is heartening to know that the quiet dignified assistance SVP offer to those who reach out to us is helping to keep people in their homes before they fall into the trap of homelessness, something we all dread,” Donal Shanahan points out, highlighting the need for new volunteers to continue this often overlooked work.

Monday’s open evening in UCC begins at 7.30pm. For more information, contact SVP Membership Officer Ellmarie Spillane on 021-4270444/086-1837273, or email