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Working with St. Vincent de Paul

A letter to Bord na Móna from St. Vincent de Paul
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVP) deeply appreciate the help Bord na Móna has provided to it in 2015 and in years past. The Society was founded in Ireland in 1844 and is the largest voluntary charitable organisation in Ireland. Our focus is on practical approaches to dealing with poverty, alleviating its effects on individuals and families through working primarily in person-to-person contact by a unique system of family visitation.

In addition to providing direct assistance to those in need, caring for the homeless, providing social housing, operating holiday homes and other social support activities, the Society promotes community self-sufficiency, enabling people to help themselves. Any assistance offered by the Society is given in a non-judgemental spirit, based on the needs of the individual or family seeking help.

SVP is often the first port of call with volunteers working with families to relieve acute financial pressure and give them the space to breath and increasingly avoid homelessness. Visiting families in their homes allows our volunteers to see at an early stage when meeting increasing rental costs are placing an extreme financial burden on such families.

The level of calls for help being received by SVP is remaining static overall this year but up by 4% in some Regions and up overall by 100% since 2009. This Christmas period SVP volunteers will visit 140,000 people throughout the country to help with the basics like food, fuel and education costs. It can still take just one small problem to tip a family into a crisis. But the opposite is also true; we know that a little help at the right time can change everything for someone in crisis.

Most of those who seek the support of St Vincent de Paul are struggling week in and week out on a basic minimum income, either from state payments or from low-paid employment. It is when they encounter an unexpected cost or a period when additional expenditure occurs, such as Christmas, that they critically need SVP which now spends an average of €40m per year in direct assistance, primarily on food, energy, education, clothing and furniture as well as toys at Christmas.

SVP depends almost entirely on donations from the public and corporate supporters such as Bord na Móna in order to be able to provide this help.