CHILDREN are scavenging bins in the city centre and levels of poverty comparable to the Third World now exist in our community according to the President of the Kilkenny branch of the St Vincent De Paul, Liam Heffernan.
The shocking revealation that two five-year-old children were found rooting through a bin on High Street in recent days highlights the dire poverty that many people now find themselves in. The youngsters were spotted by a local social worker who has contacted the HSE directly in relation to the case.
There has also been a 100 percent increase in the number of families seeking help from the charity, with the number of families contacting the charity increasing from 300 to 600 families.
"We are seeing Third World conditions in the city, with two children found rooting through bins in search of food on High Street. I also saw an adult searching through a bin recently for food. I have never seen conditions so bad. People are going hungry and are in desperate need of fuel and there is a real chance that there could be an awful tragedy if people dont act.
"Earlier this year people ran up huge heating and electricity bills because of the freezing weather and many of them are still in debt struggling to repay them. People who were previously our donors are now our recipients. There are people who have no heating or fuel or money to get either," he said.
Mr Heffernan told the Kilkenny People that the arrival of unprecedented Artic conditions so early in the Winter was the charity's 'worst nightmare'. "If the freezing weather continues there is a big fear that people could die. We are trying to get fuel out to people who are desperately in need," he added.
The charity spent 250,000 euro in the city last year and estimates that it will spend in excess of 400,000 euro this year."This year two of the four conferences (the charity is broken down into different areas or conferences) went broke for the first time in my memory and I have been involved with the charity for the past thirty years. We badly need money, especially in the run up to Christmas. The weather and economic circumstances means that some people are in a very bad way. I visited a mother and her two children recently and she had only 35 euro for the week and very little fuel for heating," he added.
While the charity are providing help to those in need who contact them they are also appealing to people to visit their neighbours and to be aware and take care of the more vulnerable members of their local community.
A church gate collection for the SVP will take place this weekend outside all churches in the city and county and people are asked to contribute as much as they can. Anyone who is in need can contact their local SVP conference on: St Johns (086) 895 1239, St Marys (085) 2102348, St Canice's (086) 0721598 and St Patricks (087) 6810589.
If you would like to support the SVDP lodge to Bank of Ireland, Parliament Street, account number 10952523.