St. Vincent de Paul in Donegal is urging people in difficulty to come to them, saying they understand it can be a huge step for people.
“Don’t suffer in silence; do look for help,” said Rosa Glacken, St. Vincent de Paul area president, Letterkenny.
Calls to St. Vincent de Paul have doubled nationally since 2009 and Rosa said that Donegal has seen an increase in the last three years. There has also been an increase in the numbers of middle-income people who have sought the society’s services.
“We’re encouraging those people who would find it difficult because it’s their first time -- and people would find it very difficult to ask for help -- but we are encouraging them because we see them as the people most in need,” Rosa said.
“It is a huge step and we try and reassure people that everything is dealt with sensitively and confidentially,” she said.
People come to the society for a number of reasons, including financial assistance, Rosa said, “to help to put food on the table, because by the time the bills are paid there’s very little left”.
Back-to-school costs also add pressure to already-stretched budgets and the demand on the society’s services has increased dramatically since the beginning of August. “We hear conferences are getting quite a number of calls worrying about coping with back-to-school costs,” Rosa said.
She said there are a number of outlets, including St. Vincent de Paul charity shops, that sell very affordable primary-school uniforms, and urged people to shop around for school uniforms and shoes. Rosa also encouraged people to negotiate with schools a way of paying school contributions over time rather than all at once, saying, “There are so many added costs when the children return.”
Book costs are among the biggest concerns. The SVP Letterkenny president said a good number of schools offer a book rental scheme and hopefully more schools would adopt that system.
Rosa kept returning to her earlier message, encouraging people in difficulty to get in touch with the society. “Often a listening ear is a huge help,” she said, adding that people, “do find it a huge relief to be able to share the burden”.