The cost-of-living crisis is deepening.
St. Vincent De Paul (SVP) South-West has been inundated with calls for assistance during December, with volunteers fielding up to 1,400 calls a week from people in need across Cork and Kerry.
Numbers seeking help over the last two weeks have increased by up to 200 a week since November and the charity said it is facing its most demanding Christmas and winter period in several decades.
“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 recipients, parents, carers, those on disability payments, and those in lower-paid employment,” said SVP South-West’s Regional Co-ordinator Gerry Garvey.
“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. The price of a bag of coal has almost doubled this year – it may even increase again, and this has really put a strain on our reserve funds for the year.” Mr Garvey said.
“Energy costs are crippling, but unfortunately that’s not the only issue, the rising cost of food has also impacted our funds, and we need to ensure that we increase the food vouchers we provide in line with the cost of living and these heightened food prices,” he added.
Another concern the charity has flagged is the knock-on personal effect for owners of small businesses and their staff who are set to face an uncertain January with mounting Revenue bills after deferring payments like VAT and PRSI during the pandemic.
Mr Garvey said they had heard of numerous smaller business owners who fear they will be forced to close in the New Year in the face of these significant debts built up during Covid closures since 2020 as the Christmas sales revenue may not be enough to keep them afloat.
“The overriding theme we are seeing this year is that, in addition to struggling and vulnerable people, the cost-of-living crisis is pushing full-time lower-income workers further into poverty and we are receiving calls from people who are in despair every day because they are struggling massively to cope with basic living expenses,” he added.
The Annual SVP South-West Car Draw 2022 is a key fundraising event for the region, with tickets for the raffle (€5 each) available online at galabid.com/SVPcardraw.
Anyone in Cork who is struggling in the run-up to Christmas and the New Year can contact SVP Cork at 021 4270444.