Galway Advertiser 2005/2005_12_15/GA_1512_E1_006.pdf
6 N E W S
December 15 2005
St Vincent de Paul prepares for busy Christmas period
BY MARY O'CONNOR The St Vincent de Paul Society is facing into one of its busiest Christmases ever this year. Local administrator Colm Noonan says it is "way, way busier" than this time last year when it reached out to 1,200 households. "We are helping everyone from single parents to large families to Traveller families and asylum seekers. The nonnationals are a huge concern, especially getting them through Christmas. We estimate that the number of families we will deal with this Christmas will be up 200 on last year's numbers." The society, which helps more than 350 families and people each week and spent 990,000 on cash aid, food, clothing, fuel and education this year, says despite the booming economy day-to-day life is a constant struggle for many people. "There are groups of people who have not been brought along by the Celtic Tiger. There is tons of money around yet Ireland has the highest child poverty rate in the EU. We are appealing to people to spare a thought for others. There is huge goodwill out there." He says while the Government listened to groups like the St Vincent de Paul for its Budget it could have done more for marginalised people. The society, which is 150 years in Galway, is the largest provider of hostel and social housing accommodation in Ireland. "Homelessness has many causes, some people are homeless because of family breakdowns, violence or addiction while some because of job loss or unaffordable rent increase. Whatever the cause nobody actually wants to be homeless or forced to live in B&Bs or hostels." He says poverty in rural areas is harder to quantify than in the city. "We've no branches in Connemara, except for Tullycross. We could do with branches there as well as the Aran Islands as we get calls from all those areas." Mr Noonan says the bequest made by the late Maureen O'Connell of O'Connell's pub in Eyre Square to the society, which was reported to be worth 10 million, has not come through yet. "We have been left the residue of the estate, not the pub. The money will be substantial. When we get it, it will be ringfenced for long-term capital projects, such as education and housing. However, we still need to fundraise for the day-to-day work of the society." More volunteers are needed to help the society in its work. "It's wonderful what we can do....and we could do so much more if we had more support. This year we had a very successful recruitment campaign with over 60 new members joining. Together we can do something wonderful for somebody very much in need." Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer or making a donation to the society's Christmas appeal should contact it at Ozanam House, St Augustine Street. Telephone (091) 563233 or 562254.
Media Production students at Galway Technical Institute recently held a table quiz and raffle in aid of St. Vincent De Paul and are pictured presenting the cheque to Jim Harrington, onbehalf of the charity this week.
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