St Vincent de Paul Society in Christchurch still has Christmas gifts for families available as demand for its services has lifted 30% this year.
Over the last year the society volunteers have made approximately 6500 house visits, answering the call for charity amongst a wide cross section of society.
Mike Daly, President of the Canterbury Area Council of St Vincent de Paul, said that this is a strong increase on last year and now that we are on the cusp of Christmas, demand is three times greater than previous weeks so resources are stretched.
“At this time of the year, many parents struggle to provide Christmas presents for their children. They get within a week of Christmas and then realise that their children are going to be disappointed, so we want to make sure we do not run out of presents meaning they also miss out.
St Vincent de Paul differs from other volunteer organisations in that its 200 volunteers in Christchurch personally visit each home that has requested assistance.
“This provides an opportunity to better understand the background to their needs and to provide assistance and advice as appropriate and to link those in need with the correct organisations.
“The requirements of the society are wide. Every year we have thousands of families that come to us for assistance due to loss of employment, sickness, relationship breakdown, other financial challenges. As well as offering the usual food and other welfare assistance there are many we assist with clothing or other goods, budgeting and rent and energy payments,” he said.
Daly said that a recent survey of those who have been helped by St Vincent de Paul showed that over a half were one-time users of the services offered.
“they have a one-time need and we are happy to be able to get them over that hurdle,” he said.
The St Vincent de Paul Society is a voluntary international organisation of men and women who practice Christian charity by helping those in need on a personal and person-to-person basis. The aim of the Society is to help all people in any need regardless of their race, belief or circumstances. Hospital, prison and rest home visits are also part of its work. It was first established in New Zealand in 1868.
St Vincent de Paul has three shops around Christchurch, it has trucks that collect furniture and bedding from donors around the city and then deliver to those in need. They also cover energy and rent payments for those in need, make visits to the elderly, the sick and to prisons.