Belfast Telegraph

Charity deluged by rise in calls from affluent areas

By Donna Deeney

A charity helping the poor has said it is receiving calls for help for the first time from areas regarded as more affluent.

St Vincent de Paul (SVP) also made an urgent appeal for people to donate warm clothes after one of its collection bins was stolen in Londonderry.

The city’s SVP president Bernard Feeney said it is taking hundreds of calls from people looking for help but the theft of the bin has put added strain on its ability to help vulnerable people living in poverty.

Mr Feeney said that this year has brought big changes, both in where calls are coming from, but also in the things people are asking for.

He said: “We have discovered a ‘new poor' in Derry that we haven't seen before and that is people who live in our more affluent areas but are struggling to keep the roof over their head due to job losses.

“On the outside they appear to have a good lifestyle, a big house, but inside they are in tears trying to put food on the table and make ends meet in fear that their homes will be repossessed.

“To their credit they are coming to us and we are able to give them food and heating.

“In addition to this we are also, for the first time, coming across people who are asking us for clothes.

“In the past people would have gone to any of the local charity shops and bought what they needed, but now they are asking us directly for clothes for them and their children, for bedding and for warm coats, which would show us just how much poverty there is in the city, coupled by the sheer volume of calls that are coming through to our volunteers.”

The charity’s strained resources in the city received a blow when thieves stole a collection bin containing donations of clothes from the grounds of Ardmore Church.

Mr Feeney said: “It could not have been taken from there without some kind of hoist or machinery, so this was certainly not an opportunistic theft, it was planned and organised and left us out of pocket, not just for the cost of the bin — in the region of £800 — but also the clothes inside.”

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