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People facing ‘toughest Christmas in decades’

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By Sean Moriarty

It's a choice of "heat or eat" for over 300 local people desperately seeking support from the St Vincent de Paul this Christmas.

Local helpers on the ground say that they've seen an increase in over one hundred people this year who are faced with impossible choices. And, many of those same people are the very ones who previously supported the charity, according to the Killarney branch of St Vincent de Paul (SVP).

Demand for its services is now at its highest in years in the run up to Christmas.

This time last year SVP in Killarney helped around 200 families but that figure will exceed 300 families by Christmas as people grapple with the 'Cost of Living Crisis'.

The local branch says it is getting “over 10 calls a day" from people seeking help and many of those calls are coming from "people who helped us in the past now need help themselves”.

As well as usual food parcels, the local SVP is getting more and more calls from people seeking help to pay their electricity and fuel bills.

The rising costs of energy is having an effect on local families but is also effecting SVP’s budgets.

Last year, on average, the charity gave out fuel vouchers for €400 but they are adding another €200 to this year’s voucher and "that is not even filling a tank”.

Breda Dwyer is the President of the local conference of St Vincent de Paul.

“So far this month, we have helped nearly 300 in some way, we are getting 10 calls a day,” she told the Killarney Advertiser.

“There is a lot of demand for fuel vouchers, people may be getting the Government grant but there are a lot of very old houses in the Killarney area that are almost impossible to heat, they are not insulated.”

The charity has also revealed that the most significant increase in calls this year is coming from lower income earners in full-time employment.

“What we are finding is that people who helped us in the past and now need help themselves," added Breda.

Across counties Kerry and Cork the charity expects to reach a peak of 1,400 calls per week this month.

Local people seeking help should call the dedicated Killarney phone number on 087 6164888.

“If the phone is not answered, leave a message. We will get back to everyone who makes contact.”

CAR DRAW

The annual SVP South-West Annual Car Draw will be a key fundraising event for the region this year, with tickets and free post return envelopes delivered to every household in Kerry and Cork and the added option of buying tickets online. Donations are also welcome through both channels.

SVP South-West’s Regional Co-ordinator Gerry Garvey said the charity is gearing up for one of the most difficult periods for the South-West region in many years.

“We have received an unprecedented number of calls for this time of year and from all walks of life."

Tickets for the raffle cost €5 each and can be returned in the Freepost SVP envelope or dropped into the SVP Regional Office at Ozanam House, 2 Tuckey Street, Cork or Unit 2 Monavalley Business Park, Tralee.

You can also purchase tickets online at app.galabid.com/svpcardraw.

First prize will be a brand-new Ford Focus, kindly donated by the Kavanagh family’s TOMAR Trust, and there will be six other cash prizes. The final date for entries will be 12 noon on Friday, January 6.

The draw will take on Wednesday, January 11 at CAB Motor Company showrooms, where the winners will be announced. Details of the winners will be published on www.SVP.ie.

DONATION

A €25,000 donation has been made to the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) local conference in Killarney to help individuals and families over the Christmas period.

The RISE Community Fund supported by National Broadband Ireland, the company delivering the National Broadband Plan (NBP), made the donation to mark National Broadband Ireland’s 25,000th connection to its high-speed fibre broadband network, which was officially announced at the Cahernane House Hotel, Killarney last week.

Killarney Cardiac Response Unit is also one of six community groups in Kerry set to receive €1,000 from the group. The unit now plans to expand their communication systems and provide an additional projector for their training courses.

 

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Muckross Rowing Club members on Irish teams for two major regattas

  Six members of Muckross Rowing Club will compete for Ireland in two upcoming international events. Rowing Ireland this week announced the Irish squads for the Coupe de la Jeunesse […]

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Six members of Muckross Rowing Club will compete for Ireland in two upcoming international events.

Rowing Ireland this week announced the Irish squads for the Coupe de la Jeunesse Regatta.

Daniel Fleming and Ian Coffey have both been selected for the Under 19 Irish squad to race at the Coupe de la Jeunesse Regatta for European junior rowers. The Coupe de la Jeunesse Regatta, involving 16 European countries, will be held over from over three days, August 9-11 in Racice, Czechia.

Four Under 23 university rowers from the Muckross club have also been selected as part of the Senior Irish squad for the Home International Regatta this month.

Niamh Coffey (University of Limerick), Patrick Buckley (University of Limerick), Finn O’Sullivan (University of Limerick) and Ethan O’Neill (University College Cork Rowing Club) will take on the ‘Triple Crown’ event of rowing, competing for Ireland against crews from England, Scotland and Wales.

The Home International Regatta will be held on Saturday, July 27 in Strathclyde, Scotland.

All six Muckross rowers have earned their green jerseys following a lengthy and testing trial series on land and water which began in Autumn 2023 and culminated in final water trials at the end of June.

“Muckross Rowing Club sends its best wishes to the very talented Muckross oarsmen and women and all their crewmates as they fly the flag for Ireland this summer. The talented group build on a successful record in the sport,” said club PRO Tim O’Shea.

Niamh Coffey is a multiple Irish and University Championship winner and has previously represented Ireland in the Under 23 European Championships.

In 2022, O’Neill rowed at Junior level at the Home International event and won a gold medal as part of the Irish quadruple scull crew in the 500m sprint event.

Both Buckley and O’Sullivan continue to compete at the highest level nationally with the University of Limerick Rowing Club,  and join the Irish squad for the first time this year.

The international selections come at an exciting time before the Olympic Regatta in Paris, where Zoe Hyde (Tralee Rowing Club) will be among the largest Irish rowing contingent of 16 rowers to contest an Olympic Games.

Killorglin native Zoe has previously rowed for both Killorglin and Muckross rowing clubs and will race the Women’s Double event for Ireland with Alison Bergin (Fermoy Rowing Club) in Paris.

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Valuable role of Kerry cancer support charity recognised nationally

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Cancer support charity Recovery Haven Kerry has been recognised for its vital role in supporting cancer patients and their families at a national ceremony in Dublin.

The renowned cancer support house was one of 16 such centres across Ireland that were presented with plaques to acknowledge their full membership of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) Alliance – a group made up of voluntary and charity organisations delivering support services directly to cancer patients and their families. An additional 10 associate member charities were also honoured, including Kerry Cancer Support Group.

The Alliance advocates for, and supports, the development of integrated pathways between the cancer centres, acute hospitals, community cancer support services and primary care services. All members’ development is in line with the values of Sláintecare, seeking to provide assurance to healthcare professionals that these organisations are working to an agreed standard as set out in Best Practice Guidance published by the NCCP. 

Speaking after the ceremony, which was held at Dublin’s Farmleigh Estate, Recovery Haven Kerry Chairman, Tim McSwiney, explained that being compliant with the Best Practice Guidance for Community Cancer Support Centres is a true mark of quality. 

“It offers us a yardstick to measure what we are doing against the standards required. As a result, healthcare professionals have more confidence in referring people to our services. We are very proud to be a member of the Alliance,” he said.

Recovery Haven Kerry was represented at the event by centre manager, Gemma Fort and Client Services Co-Ordinator, Siobhan MacSweeney and were presented with their plaque by NCCP Lead for Cancer Survivorship, Louise Mullen, Clinical Lead for Psycho-Oncology Dr Helen Greally, and Minister of State at the Department of Health, Colm Burke. 

The event was also used as an opportunity to announce funding of €3m for the NCCP’s Alliance of Community Cancer Support Centres and Services through Budget 2024. The NCCP is currently in the process of distributing these funds which will directly and positively impact the delivery of services for patients and families nationally.

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