Clonmel man heads up appeal to help struggling families this Christmas

Clonmel man heads up appeal to help struggling families this Christmas

Kieran Stafford outside the St Vincent de Paul headquarters in Clonmel.

A Clonmel man who heads up the St Vincent de Paul's annual national appeal has said that funds are vital to help those in dire need this Christmas.

Businessman Kieran Stafford said the country's 'invisible' people, those who feel forgotten by society, are facing an uncertain Christmas.

The vice-chairman of the St Vincent de Paul said Irish people have always been extremely generous but a similar response is needed this weekend to maintain funds.

"We must ensure that we have enough funds to see these families over Christmas and into the new year", he said.

Mr Stafford said the society is not seeing any let-up in the number of people seeking help, even though they are constantly told that things are on the up. 

"We are not seeing any evidence of that in the people we are visiting and those we are helping on an on-going basis", he stated.

And he said the key areas where people were suffering were with food, fuel and paying bills. And in rural areas people were approaching the society looking for help in meeting the costs of hospital, doctor and clinic appointments.

"People are also struggling to meet education costs, from primary to secondary to third level", he said.

Mr Stafford, a long serving member of the society in Clonmel who is now national vice-president, remarked that there are signs of economic improvement in some larger urban areas but the difficulties remain in rural areas and smaller towns.

"There is no difference in the number of people coming to us looking for help. But this is no surprise to us as we are meeting people every day, every week, all year long. We sit down and listen to their story and assist them anyway we can. We have been doing for 170 years and unfortunately it is no different now to what it was last year, two years ago or five years ago."

And while he emphasised that the support of the Irish public had been magnificent and donations remained consistent with previous years, if that level of support didn't continue the society wouldn't be able to address the needs of the famiies it helps at Christmas and into the new year.

"People are still coming to us in very difficult circumstances. People who have lost their jobs, lost their businesses, who have big families and are struggling to provide a decent Christmas for them.

"And these people feel that no one is interested in listening to their stories, they feel they don't have a voice. We are very privileged to be invited into their homes and to listen to their stories and to provide assistance whatever way we can.

"Some groups want to embrace the upturn in the economy, and certainly there has been an upturn for many people, but we cannot forget those who are still struggling and in such difficult circumstances".