‘Floodgates are going to open’

POVERTY SVP costs up €15K a year as more families seek help

The lifting of the eviction ban is putting a lot of pressure on already-struggling families in County Cavan, the head of a local charity has said. Lynda Byrne, vice president of St Vincent de Paul in Cavan told the Celt this week that inflation and cost of living concerns are forcing more people to turn to them for help and putting pressure on resources.

"Across the board, we're spending at least €10,000 - €15,000 more a year on our services compared to two or three years ago. Since Covid, we have had a lot of new clients - rent, and ESB are crippling. There are a lot of new people who say they can't believe they're looking for help.

"We're nervous about how the trend is going. If eviction is looming, these are all massive pressures for people to face. They have nowhere to go.

"It created a lot of worry for us. Since the ban was lifted, there is a feeling that the floodgates are going to open. People are feeling desperate and a lot of panic."

Eviction already was an issue prior to the ban and Lynda feels this is only going to get worse.

"Our biggest issue is landlords selling houses. In the last year, there has been a massive increase in this. Last year we were getting calls to help with one case every two months, now it is one every second week. Rent increase is a big issue. People on HAP don't see their allowance increase to match the rental costs, which are going up, and people are being left in a lot of bother."

Lynda says a hidden cost of a family being evicted is the price of moving to a new school.

"If someone is forced to leave their home and relocate to a new area, they may leave their kids in the same school. The cost of driving the kids to a new school can cause a lot of expenses. But if they move them to a new school then they have to buy the uniform in the new school, which can also be very expensive."

In order to help with this St Vincent de Paul in Cavan is running a fundraising raffle.

"We are raffling a 9ct Gold and Sterling Silver bangle bracelet handmade and donated by Tracy Trainor, a local jewellery artist. The money raised will be used to establish a hardship fund for families with school-aged children in Cavan. Tickets can be bought online or by contacting our store in Cavan."

Winter fuel

SVP Cavan also had to curtail its winter fuel donations as a result of increased demand.

"We give coal in the winter months and our bill has doubled, despite giving less coal per head. We used to give three bags of coal monthly for five months. We had to reduce it to two bags a month, but the costs are still much higher than years gone by.

"When it started, it was for pensioners and social workers would ring and put people on the list and you wouldn't think twice about it, but now we have to be so strict about it, there needs to be a real need for it. We can't be as generous as before," says Lynda.