Donations have dropped but calls for help from Portlaoise’s “new poor” are greater than ever according to the town’s St Vincent de Paul charity.
President of the branch Billy Fitzpatrick says donations have dropped drastically.
“I put it down to the CRC and Rehab scandals, that has affected things. It’s the same for most charities. We had a very good response at Christmas but I would say we are down about a third in donations,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
There is a “new poor” in Portlaoise now, he says.
“There are some really sad cases. We are now dealing with people that would have been helping us. Some are too embarrassed to look for help, but we can’t reach them, they have to approach us. One family we visited recently had €2 left to buy two litres of milk. That had been a rich family who owned two houses at one stage. We are getting an extra three or four clients every week,” he said.
SVP focus on providing the necessities of food and heating to those in need, but many are in mortgage arrears he says.
“We refer them to MABS (Money Advice and Budgeting Service),” he said.
Addiction is a big issue.
“There is a lot of drugs in Portlaoise, more so in recent months. The amount of young people affected is frightening. Their families have no idea how to help. Young girls and lads come to us as homeless. We present them to Laois County Council as homeless and in crisis. Laois hasn’t a hostel, so they are referred to Simon in Tullamore ir the SVP hostel in Carlow,” he said.
The charity are expanding their shop on 1 Dublin Road, and seeking a temporary home on Main Street.
“We are revamping the place over the next two months. The shop will be bigger and we will have two meeting rooms, so we can hopefully rent one out and make a bit of income that way. We hope to be back in early September,” said Mr Fitzpatrick.
He praised the SVP committee and volunteers, who make housecalls and deliveries, do school lunches, or work in the shop.
“We have fifteen very dedicated members on our committee.We are always looking for volunteers for the shop, even to help out for a couple of hours a week,” he said.
Call SVP at (057) 8660486