The demand on St. Vincent de Paul has been greater this year than in recent years with one woman admitting to a charity worker that she has to make a choice between heat and food. This December, organisers of the St. Vincent de Paul services expects to give out between E6,000 and E10,000 worth of supplementary food in the Letterkenny area alone.
Local branch member, Rosie Glackin said: “We are very busy a lot busier than we were last year. However, as well as that the public are being very generous, schools, businesses, individuals, community groups and co-operations are all willing to help. We had a church gate collection last week and everyone is proving to be very generous.”
She said that in one day her Dublin office had fielded 750 calls recently and that according to Barnados 60 per cent of families with a three-year-old are struggling to make ends meet.
“People are mostly looking for heat and food this year, that is the main thing. If we are not giving out hampers of food, it’s vouchers. We are also looking for toys at this time of the year as gifts to children. I have visited homes this winter that have been really cold. One lady said to me that she was choosing between heat and food and she was going to bed early at night, we are hearing these kind of stories although they are not widespread,” she said.
She added that there was widespread concern over the nourishment of families with fears that people may cut back on fruit and vegetables to make ends meet.
St. Vincent de Paul has 77 conference areas in Donegal and during the Christmas period it is envisaged that between E2,000 and E4,000 being spent on food in each area.
“The demand is higher as more people need it and we are just trying to spread it around. This is the most demand that we have seen in recent times. People are looking for help from all backgrounds, families where people have lost their jobs, families where parents are on supplements and people on pensions. Smaller families are finding it tighter. It is unbelievable, however people are thinking of St. Vincent de Paul first which is great. We are a little bit concerned about January as Christmas will be over but we are sure that people will continue to help as much as they can.”
Meanwhile, a leading spokesperson on senior care has urged people to look out for signs that an older family member may be in need of help.
Noreen McGlynn of Home Instead Seniro Care said: “The run up to Christmas is a very busy time for everyone and it’s easy for family or friends who regularly visit the elderly person not to see the subtle signs that he or she needs assistance. But some family members or relatives or friends who may not have seen the senior for a while can notice subtle differences since their last visit. Signs of potential trouble can be evident in the home – such as spoiled food in the fridge, a stack of unpaid bills or personal indicators such as episodes of confusion or dirty and unkempt clothing.
For information on the services offered by Home Instead Senior Care, phone 1890 930013 or log onto www.homeinstead.ie