PARENTS in the city are being urged not to succumb to consumer pressures this Christmas by the society of Saint Vincent de Paul, which has seen a 30% increase in demand for its services this year.
Speaking at the launch of the annual appeal in St Patrick’s hostel on Clare Street, regional president Michael Murphy urged people to resist turning to moneylenders at this time.
“Under no circumstances should they resort to borrowing from moneylenders to meet seasonal expenditure. Christmas has become a consumer festival rather than an occasion when families spend time together and when we discover the true meaning of family and friendship,” he said.
Mr Murphy said he hoped the practice of turning to moneylenders in hard times was left behind in the 1980s. “Sadly people are resorting to them again, both illegal and legal and it’s not the answer to their problems,” he said.
Their drop-in centre on Hartstonge Street for the homeless and others who have fallen on hard times has also seen an increase in visitors, averaging 60-80 people per day, six days a week.
This year over 1,500 food hampers will be delivered to deserving families in the Limerick area, and Mr Murphy said handing out the toy hampers was “the happiest day we had last year”.
Those seeking assistance from SVP - the ‘new poor’ - were previously those in a position to donate to the society, but they too now find themselves in need.
One quarter of all requests now received are from people contacting the society for the first time, he said. “How many more people are out there who are reluctant or too embarrassed to make that call?” he asked.
The most pressing concern amongst those contacting the society has been the rise in costs of utility bills, some as high as €2,000. He urged people to contact the society before they are cut off by the supplier, as this can pose an additional and “needless cost”.
He urged anyone with difficulties to come forward, saying they will be treated with empathy, and in a confidential, non-judgmental manner. Anyone wishing to donate toys to the appeal can do so at any SuperValu store or any SVP offices in Limerick and Ennis.