5 January 2023
By Mary Bermingham
The final date for entries is 12 noon on Friday January 6th, 2023.
With the cost-of-living crisis deepening, SVP reports that more people than ever are seeking help during the winter season, with 1,400 calls for help per week (a 30% increase last year).
SVP South-West have said significant numbers of people in Cork and Kerry are reaching out to them seeking assistance as they struggle to cope with sky-high energy costs, increased prices for fuel and sharp rises in the price of food.
The charity has also revealed that the most significant increase in calls this year is coming from lower-income earners in full-time employment.
SVP South-West’s Regional Co-ordinator Gerry Garvey said the charity is gearing up for one of the most difficult periods for the South-West region in many years.
“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.
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 have flagged is the knock on personal affect 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 remarked.
“80% of SVP’s core fundraising is now conducted during the October to December period, with traditional church collections only permitted to resume this year post pandemic. The key fundraising drive for SVP South-West across Cork and Kerry is the Annual Car Draw, with funds generated in Cork directly helping to provide assistance for people in Cork. All funds generated in Kerry as a result of the Car Draw will be directly going towards assisting people in Kerry.
“We would also like to say a special thank you to the Cavanagh family / The Tomar Trust who again donated a brand-new Ford Focus for the draw this year,” Mr Garvey concluded.
Regional President Paddy O’Flynn said that this year, the fundraiser would be even more critical to the charity to help them to continue assisting people across both Cork and Kerry. Mr O’Flynn said:
“The public has always been extremely generous to St Vincent De Paul’s South-West region of Cork and Kerry. Last year, we were blown away by the support we received during such a difficult time. We appreciate that this Christmas is going to be more challenging for many people across all walks of life. However, we are deeply concerned about the impact of the cost of living and the pressure it has placed on our core services.
The numbers of people who require our assistance this year is unprecedented, people are being forced to make an impossible choice this winter – heat or eat, and the funds raised from the Annual Car Draw this year are vital to us to enable us to help as many people as possible.”
“While we are not a homeless charity, we also do a lot of work behind the scenes to prevent people from losing their homes. We also act as a “last-resort” for people in third level education and provide funding and bursaries to approx. 190 students from socially disadvantaged background who would not be in a position to attend college if they did not receive funding from the Society, and we have been receiving more calls from students this year seeking our assistance.” he continued:
“It has been another exceptionally challenging year for SVP South-West but particularly for the families and individuals we support. Our fundraising needs remain consistently high, and we are once again turning to online appeals for the Annual Car Draw. We are extremely grateful for any support that we receive. Each and every donation will make a difference and we want to take this opportunity to thank the people of Cork and Kerry for all of their support this year to date,” Mr O’Flynn concluded.
In addition to supporting families, in the run up to and throughout the winter period, the charity continues to provide up to 4,530 homes across Cork and Kerry with regular coal deliveries throughout the winter and are delivering approx. 350 food hampers every week to families in need through the SVP Cork and Kerry Hamper Projects.
Last year, over 8,400 families and individuals were contacted and supported by SVP volunteers in Cork and Kerry and Mary Frances Behan, South-West Regional Vice President and Area President for North County Kerry echoed Mr O’Flynn’s comments.
She said: “Since the pandemic we have continued to find new ways to contact and help families and individuals we assist and have overcome many challenges to do so. We couldn’t have done this without the support of the public, and we really do appreciate it. It has been another tough year, and this year looks set to be the most difficult in recent years. However, we remain committed to ensuring that all families and individuals who need our help will be supported irrespective of the challenges that we face. We are now back to visiting people in their homes, which is the essence of SVP – providing support and friendship as well as practical supports such as vouchers and energy support.
The Annual SVP South-West Car Draw 2022 is a key fundraising event for the region, with tickets and free post return envelopes delivered to every household in Cork and Kerry and the added option of buying tickets online. Donations are also welcome through both channels.
The final date for entries will be 12 noon on Friday 6th January 2023 at www.galabid.com/SVPcardraw
Freepost SVP envelopes can be posted or dropped into the SVP Regional Office at Ozanam House, 2 Tuckey Street, Cork or Unit 2 Monavalley Business Park, Tralee, Co Kerry.
First prize will be a brand-new Ford Focus, kindly donated by the Kavanagh family’s TOMAR Trust , In addition to this there will be six other cash prizes.
The draw will take on January 11th at CAB Motors, Cork with the Lord Mayor in attendance, where the winners will be announced.
Details of the winners will be published on www.SVP.ie and in the Irish Examiner on Saturday January 14th, with the event streamed later on social media.