07 July 2023 A donation from The RISE Community Fund to The South West Region of the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) has provided direct financial support to 295 families in the Killarney area in recent months to help alleviate their energy and food costs.

Aided by a donation of €25,000 from The RISE Community Fund, supported by National Broadband Ireland (NBI), the Killarney Area Council provided support directly to those families in need.

The €25,000 donation was ringfenced to specifically help address poverty among the most vulnerable people in SVP’s South West Region in the Killarney area.

David McCourt, the founder of the RISE Community Fund and Chairman of NBI, commented: Community spirit is the fabric of rural Ireland and is something to treasure and empower. In challenging times, St Vincent de Paul has supported so many families with food, energy and education costs this winter, and it’s an honour for the RISE Community Fund and NBI to help them scale their impact with this donation.”

The demand for help with energy, food and education costs in recent months was so great that the SVP West Killarney Area Council added €20,000 to the NBI donation to ensure that all requests for help were met. The funds were distributed before the end of February.

Peter Hendrick, CEO of NBI, said: “At NBI, we’re on a mission to connect over 1.1 million people in rural Ireland who don’t have access to high-speed broadband to a world-class, superfast network. Whilst connectivity is a vital utility and a critical first step, it alone can’t solve all of the challenges for businesses, community groups and social enterprises trying to expand the positive impact they have to the local community, and to the wider economy. This is why we’re delighted to engage local communities with the RISE Community Fund and show our support to local charities such as SVP Killarney, who are doing great work in the community.” 

In total, 295 households were helped with oil, coal, gas or electricity, food, education, and transport costs. Some households received help towards two or more of these energy sources: 14 families received help with oil, 31 families with coal, 50 families with electricity costs, 20 families with gas and 285 were assisted with food hampers, vouchers, and education and transport costs over the period.

Breda Dwyer SVP Area President for Killarney said: “We are very grateful to The RISE Community Fund and NBI for its donation, and to the members of the SVP Killarney Area Council for adding to this donation when the extreme need in the area became obvious not just in Killarney town but the adjacent hinterland as well. Combined, this allowed our local volunteers to provide far-reaching assistance to those in need of support with energy, education, and food costs. Having adequate heat and electricity is a basic living requirement but for many people who contact us they are often unable to pay basic utility bills, buy fuel or pay for education costs for their children. For vulnerable families who were already struggling, the recent increase in energy prices and cost of living crisis has only further marginalised them and pushed them further into debt. It is heart warming to know that this donation has supported such a significant number of households with energy, education, and food costs at a crucial time.”

Adding to this, Breda said: “Education has become a very large part of the work SVP does today. In 2022, here in the southwest we spent almost €500K and €100K of that alone was spent in Kerry supporting students in various ways. This includes helping students with fees as sometimes families are just over the threshold and the student will not get a grant. We also support students with accommodation payments as the cost has risen so much that students are often commuting two hours to get to college and back each day. We have also helped students out with transport costs and equipment. Another way in which we support students is with food vouchers. This is an area we can really see the difference that SVP can make to a student’s life.”