The level of poverty in the city is increasing, with some children forced to go to school hungry as parents struggle to feed their children.
Personal debt is also spiralling out of control and the local St Vincent de Paul Society fears that it will run out of funds later in the year again.
The shocking revelation was made by Liam Heffernan, president of the St Vincent de Paul in Kilkenny, who also said that two of the four conferences in the city had already run out of money at stages during the year.
“We have already run out of money and had to cut off all our clients over the summer months except for emergency ones,” Mr Heffernan said. “People desperately need help. There are people in dire straits who are crying out for help. I was in a house this week where the teenage children were going to school with no breakfast and no lunch. The cupboard was literally bare and this family was not alone in their situation,” he said.
“I met with another family who are in severe financial stress. The single mother, who is on social welfare, was in debt of e43,000. The levels of personal debt that some people find themselves in is huge,” he added.
Mr Heffernan remarked that people from all walks of life were now seeking assistance from the charity and urged people who find themselves in hardship to contact their local conference.
“There are more people on our books now than ever, including people who worked as civil servants, lawyers and architects, and there are a large amount of people who we are helping out who worked previously in the construction industry. Unfortunately when one wheel falls off two or three usually do. At the moment we have between 400 and 500 families on our books.
“The real fear is for the winter comes. People have been hard hit by the cuts in the fuel allowance. Last year we were lucky that no one died from exposure,” he added.
Reserves are an all-time low and Mr Heffernan is appealing to anyone who can to donate to the charity.
“Our income is mainly based on church collections but because a lot of people don’t attend Mass we are trying to generate money from other sources. We held a bag pack which was a great success and we are holding a golf classic at Kilkenny Golf Club on August 24. Last year we had two winters and there is a big fear that if there was another harsh winter people would not know what to do. The reserves are at their lowest ever and there is a real worry there that the money will run out. There are a number of community savings banks around the city, including one in the Fr McGrath Centre, and we would urge people to use this resource to prepare for the winter,” he said.
Members of the charity in Kilkenny are also hoping to run a seminar on How to Start Your Own Business. “ We did this back in the 1980s in the last serious depression and it proved to be helpful.”
Meanwhile Mr Heffernan said that the local SVP shop, Fred’s Fashions on the Butts Green, was performing exceptionally well and encouraged people to donate what they can. “At this time of the year there is a real need for schoolbooks and uniforms but everything that is given to us is used in one way or another,” he added.
Anyone in need of assistance can contact their local SVP conference or see www.svp.ie. “Often people have the perception that other people are much worse off than they are. There are people from all walks of life and from all social spectrums who are in contact with us, and we would encourage anyone who feels in real need of assistance to do the same,” Mr Heffernan said.
The local Kilkenny conference numbers are: St Mary’s 085 2102348, St Patrick’s 087 6810598, St Canice’s 086 0721598 and St John’s 085 8951239.