Young and old living in poverty need the good will and help of the nation

With the queues outside the Capuchin Center in Dublin, it’s good that there is a specific season nominated for ‘goodwill’.

Its observance may be a matter of choice, but its necessity is painfully obvious.

The thousands who lined up for the grocery vouchers at Brother Kevin’s day center more than 50 years ago are a testament to the need in our capital city.

Such was the demand that gardaí had to erect metal barriers to protect people in the line, which began to form long before the first rays of the December sun fell on Bow Street.

The center’s coordinator, Alan Bailey, announced that some people had turned up around 5am.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul tells a similar story of deprivation. It has encountered a record number of people under financial pressure.

The charity received more than 190,000 inquiries for all of last year, but this year they had reached that number by November.

The vast majority – 70 percent – come from parents who don’t want to disappoint their children.

Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise considering that nearly 600,000 people in this country are recognized as living below the poverty line.

De Paul tells us that the desperate cries for help are much more frequent when schools close.

This is attributed to “holiday hunger” – the stomach ache that comes with not getting a regular school meal.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has promised to make child poverty a priority of his new term.

In office he could not have found a more worthy subject. So much time is invested in planning for their future when their most urgent needs are neglected today.

Every moment we forget that they are still our most valuable resource, we will regret. This is of course a time when they should be at the center of our thoughts.

We should also keep an eye on those on the other end of life who may be feeling isolated.

Even before the winter cold hit, the charity Alone released a survey that found nine out of ten older people were most concerned about heating bills.

Next came food prices, with 75pc “very” or “extremely” concerned about the struggle to pay bills.

In November, the number of emergency shelters exceeded the 11,000 mark for the first time since records began in 2014.

This is a terrible threshold that the nation has crossed.

It’s said that one of the oldest human needs is to have someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night.

Launching his Christmas campaign, Alone said the “ageist” pandemic has caused many older people to slowly lose their social relevance and connection over the past two years.

There’s no better time for everyone to be on the lookout for those who don’t have someone to look forward to this Christmas. Young and old living in poverty need the good will and help of the nation

Fry Electronics Team

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