St. Vincent de Paul in Clare – Clare Champion Article No. 26

SVP has operated in Clare since 1846 when the first Conference was established in Kilrush. The first Ennis Conference opened in 1849. We are county wide now.

We are here to help in whatever way we can, and our assistance is given in a sensitive and confidential manner. We are local, we are known for giving practical assistance locally. Our Members, Clients and Donors come from the local area. So really SVP Clare is Clare people helping Clare people. The first obligation of a Member of SVP when visiting homes is the provision of support and friendship, a listening ear, empathy, and an approach that looks towards solutions. Although we are known for provision of practical help, our stock in trade is really the provision of hope. This ¬may come in the guise of a food or fuel voucher or help with the payment of an electricity and gas bill or in the experience of being supported and being offered friendship. We will work with the person if a different type of assistance is required, we have even given Santa some help over the years. In Clare we support homework clubs and breakfast clubs in primary and post-primary schools. Last year we assisted 65 people access third level education. Half of those were mature students. That is such a sign of hope. It is never too late to do something for yourself and your family.
We have some clients and apart from the postman or woman, we would be the only people calling to the door. We have clients who are in a “once off” situation and sometimes those who need assistance over a longer period. It is a privilege to be able to meet people where they are at, we call this “visitation”. Sometimes the visit or chat is all a person needs. Sometimes more is required. That is one thing that Covid has really impacted, the simple act of visitation and meeting a person where they are at and offering friendship has had to change. A lot of our “visitation” is over the phone now as people adhere to the Covid guidelines. It is a loss for our clients and our volunteers also. The phone is a poor substitute, but it will have to do until things improve. We are still working away behind closed doors currently and remotely. Conference treasurers are getting ready to provide Christmas assistance. Due to the pandemic we won’t be giving hampers this year, some conferences will provide vouchers instead. Calls are being answered and we are becoming adept at using online technology to help. We are here to help anyone in need, those who are regularly in need and those who have never had to seek assistance from us before. In Clare we have answered 2300 requests for assistance so far this year. It can take a lot of courage to ask for help, but if you do, it is a sign you want to solve a situation and improve things and that is tremendous. When you do, you are a survivor. That is so important at a time when things are going wrong for people. Covid has a lot to answer for. People have been genuinely psychologically battered over the past while. We’ve experienced a higher level of new clients phoning to look for help. Being restricted to their homes means people have extra costs, especially with electricity, gas, coal and even food. Covid has created a higher than usual level of anxiety and pressure for people. It’s audible in their voices.

Our annual appeal is ongoing for the next six weeks. This six-week period is typically the time when 70% of our annual donations are received and it is also a very busy time for our volunteers across the county.

If you find yourself in crisis this year and in need of support and practical assistance you should call our Ennis Office on 065-6824188, Kilkee on 086-2289868, Milltown Malbey on 086-2168749, Kilrush on 087-7741016, Ennistymon on 0864002627, Mid-Clare, Kildysert, Ballynacally, Lissycasey, Kilmaley, Inch, Connolly, Inagh, Corofin, Ruan, Toonagh, Barefield and Quin on 086-8484864, Clarecastle on 085-7378695, Shannon on 086-1552050, Sixmilebridge and Newmarket-on-Fergus on 086-3024238, East Clare including: Whitegate, Scarriff, Tuamgraney, Tulla, Bodyke, Broadford and Kilkishen on 086-3921492.

Please call us if you require assistance. Leave your name and number. The earlier we know, the sooner we can help.

Donations can be made through our Vincent’s Shop in Ennis, 86 Parnell St when it reopens. It will be recorded as a donation and the till will issue a receipt. You could also donate toy store vouchers there too. Or if you prefer you can donate through and look for Co Clare, if you specify a town or locality which you wish to support we will ensure that your donation gets to that locality.

Thank you.

Niamh McDonnell
Clare Area President