Coronavirus

St Vincent de Paul warns Covid-19 could impact on services

With the suspension of Masses, St Vincent de Paul has lost a key revenue source. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

ST VINCENT de Paul has expressed concern that the coronavirus pandemic could impact on its ability to support those in need.

Not only has the charity been forced to close its fundraising shops, but, with the suspension of daily and weekly Masses, it is also losing its traditional church gate collections.

Key anti-poverty and homeless charities are preparing for a surge in demand in the coming weeks as more and more people find themselves out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic.

St Vincent de Paul (SVP), the Salvation Army and Extern homeless charities are all appealing for volunteers to cope with the anticipated rise in demand.

Both SVP and the Salvation Army told the Irish News that while their key fund-raising period for the year was just around Christmas, they were preparing for the surge.

Regional SVP president, Frankie McClure said the charity was closely monitoring the situation and was taking all steps necessary to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the people it helps and its own staff and volunteers.

SVP is the largest voluntary charitable organisation in Ireland and spends almost £3m annually in Northern Ireland.

Mr McClure said: “Our volunteer resource will undoubtedly be impacted due to following government advice and this will have a knock-on effect on our ability to support those in need.

“To date we have not seen a spike in requests for support but we would appeal to anyone who is interested in volunteering to visit our website and register their interest now, as we anticipate a surge in need from the wider community in the coming weeks and months.”

The SVP president said while church gate collections have stopped, the organisation had “prudent reserves” in place to continue its work at present. However, he said the charity might have to introduce a funding raising campaign in the near future as demand for support rose.

Head of the Salvation Army in Northern Ireland Major Paul Kingscott said the charity was in a similar situation. He said volunteers in some areas were reporting difficulty in accessing food supplies, an essential service supplied by the charity.

“We've experienced a slight increase in demand but we are anticipating that things will start getting harder. We are gearing up to work with the NHS and local authorities,” he said.

While the surge has yet to hit anti-poverty organisations, Extern has launched a hardship appeal. Chief Executive, Charlie Mack urged people to donate to Extern through its website (www.extern.org) or at justgiving.com.

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Coronavirus