The St Vincent de Paul has said that rising inflation, high rents, and soaring heating and energy costs are having a deep effect across all levels of society.
In launching its 2022 Christmas Appeal, the St Vincent de Paul in Ballina said these issues were being felt right across their catchment area of Ballina, north Mayo and west Sligo with many families being forced to choose between heating their homes or paying other household bills.
Currently, the charity’s Food Bank assists up to 60 families per week. Many families are now dependent on this service for their weekly food as this assistance helps them to use their money to meet other household bills. Despite receiving food through programmes such as Food Cloud and FEAD, SVP now has to purchase large amounts of meat products to keep up with increasing demand.
Rents in the private rental sector have increased by an average of €100 per month in 2022 and for those who are working and on a low income, rent costs are a major problem and are leaving people struggling to meet other household bills. This problem is compounded, the St Vincent de Paul has said, by Ballina not being designated a Rent Pressure Zone.
Despite extra assistance for electricity costs from the Government, energy bills will cause more hardship for low-income households and will increase demand on the SVP. These issues are also having an impact on the so-called ‘working poor.’ This refers to those who have gained employment but in doing so, have lost or have had their State benefits, such as fuel allowance or rent subsidies, greatly reduced, leaving them in a very vulnerable position.
The SVP has increased its education budget by 40% for the current academic year. The majority of these funds will be used to assist third-level students, who are also facing high accommodation costs that are becoming increasingly difficult to meet.
In launching the appeal, the Bishop of Killala John Fleming said more and more families are suffering because of the current crisis.
“Due to the economic crisis which we are experiencing just now, suffering has entered homes which up to now may not have known it.”
The Bishop also encouraged people to support businesses in their local community.
“This is a very difficult time not only for families and individuals but also for small and medium-sized business, which provide the very backbone of our local community. Supporting them rather than buying online means in their turn, once they are able to stay open, they are the ones who support our community and, very often, the work of St Vincent de Paul in particular.”
“In this way they return your support with a generous donation to local charities, ensuring that monies donated in our community circle around and within our community, rather than going outside of it.”
Call 096-72905 to donate or visit the SVP on Teeling St, Ballina.