Home » Breaking News » SVP volunteer: ‘This year I see a lot of people stressed’
Bridget Kirby and Sr. Mary Corry of the Shannon conference of Saint Vincent de Paul, who are encouraging people to make donations of cash or vouchers instead of food items, this year, because of the pandemic. Photograph by John Kelly

SVP volunteer: ‘This year I see a lot of people stressed’


WITH Christmas just around the corner, the local conference of St Vincent de Paul held its annual collection at the Town Centre last Friday.
It’s an important fundraiser for the charity and spokesperson Bridget Kirby said there had been a great response, telling The Champion, “People were very, very generous.”
Bridget has been involved with St Vincent de Paul for over 20 years, but says this Christmas is shaping up to be the most hectic so far.
“We’ve been so busy this year, I’ve never seen anything like it before. People don’t have a lot. Some of them have young children, they have big ESB bills, there’s heating, we do a lot of helping with coal and with oil. It’s a tough time.”
More strain has been put on the charity because it can’t accept donations of food these days.
“The schools used to get children to bring in tins of peas and beans and boxes of cornflakes and things like that, but we can’t do it now, because of the Covid.
“We didn’t do it last year and we’re not going to do it this year. We’ll just give vouchers to families and help them as best we can.”
She says that Covid has been a big factor in the increased demand for help. As well as that inflation has returned and made things far more difficult.
“All the ESB bills have gone up and the fuel has gone up. It makes a big difference to a mother with three or four kids, that she has to spend four or five euro more for fuel and her ESB bill comes in and it might be three or four hundred euro.
“They’re coming in on Christmas week and it’s frightening for people. We try and give them as much help as we can.”
The prevailing circumstances are taking a psychological toll, she feels – “This year I see a lot of people stressed, I haven’t seen it as much before.”
Prior to Covid, the organisation used to visit people, something that can’t happen in the same way now.
“It was different because you could go and visit people. Now you’re so frightened to visit, we do doorstep visits for new people we have, just to get an insight into what’s going on in their lives, but it’s very seldom we do that.
“A lot of people have got new houses here in Shannon and they get help from the Council, but they wouldn’t get help with bedclothes and things like that, we had people looking for bedclothes this week. There are things like that which we’ve never had before. We’re pretty busy, You can imagine what it’ll be like for the next three weeks.”
At the Town Centre collection some people who had benefited from the charity in the past were in a position to contribute.
“We’ve helped people going back, helped them a good bit, and they’ve got jobs, and they’ve come back to say thank you. I thought it was lovely.
“Four or five people came back and said thank you for helping us when we were really stuck, now I’ve got a job and I’m on my feet and they returned the compliment, putting a nice bit of money into the collection. So you get good stories too.”
In general, she feels there is great generosity within Shannon.
“We’re very lucky that we have good companies here in Shannon. I won’t name them but there are great companies and they give us money every Christmas. Only for that we wouldn’t be surviving.
“We had only the one day in the Town Centre, usually it’d be two days, but we have fabulous people here in Shannon who’ll help us out.
“I go to mass here in the morning times and someone could come over and shove €200 or €300 into my hand. They’re lovely people, we’re blessed that Shannon have people like that, they’re great. We’re very thankful for the people that donate.
“There’s a lot of other people too that people would come over and give donations too. There is a lot of generosity and it’s great. We wouldn’t be able to exist without people’s generosity.”

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

Check Also

HURLING: Unbeaten Banner only getting better

Munster Senior Hurling Championship Round 5 Clare 3-31 Waterford 2-22 CLARE deservedly soared to the …