The recession is not ending — it is getting worse, according to one of the biggest providers of hot meals for homeless people in Dublin.
At one point, the Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin was providing 400 food parcels each week to people in need but, last week, the figure rose to 1,900.
The revelation came yesterday from Brother Kevin Crowley who, along with soccer pundit John Giles, will be conferred with the freedom of the city of Dublin at the end of the month.
“We’re hearing the analysts saying the recession is coming to an end but from what we see, it’s getting worse,” said Brother Crowley, who has run the Capuchin Day Centre on Bow Street since 1969
“The numbers are getting bigger.”
He disclosed the number of meals being provided daily by the centre has risen to between 800 and 850.
The monk, a native of Kilcolman in West Cork, will shortly celebrate his 80th birthday.
He warned: “More people with children area looking for help — these people go to a hotel to sleep and get their food from us.
“It’s a crying shame to be bringing little children into a hotel room with no cooking facilities. In the morning, we’d have up to 300 for breakfast and, in the afternoon, up to 550 for dinner.
“We used to give out 400 food parcels a week on a Wednesday but, last Wednesday, we had 1,900 people in for them.
“There’s a growing number of people sleeping on the streets and coming into us.”
Brother Crowley revealed that staff recently had to care for a man in his 30s who arrived in the centre suffering from hypothermia.
“We kept him alive until the ambulance arrived,” he said.
He said there was also a worrying increase in the amount of drug abuse and drug-fuelled violence.
“The violence can be quite frightening at times,” he said. “However, we have very good security and very good staff who calm them down.”
Running the centre costs €2.3m annually, of which €450,000 is provided by the Government — the rest, he says, comes from a variety of generous benefactors.
“We get tremendous support from the local gardaí, for example,” he said.
The freedom of the city would be a great honour, he said: “I’m very pleased in the sense that this is a recognition for the homeless people and the underprivileged of the city, as well as to our great staff, our volunteers and our benefactors without whom we could not keep this lifeline in operation.
“It’s prayer as well as money that keeps this place going; without the spirituality which is part of the ethos of this centre, we wouldn’t survive.”
The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Christy Burke, will confer the freedom of the city on former Ireland player and manager Giles and Brother Crowley on February 28.
Since its inception in 1876, only 78 people — including Mother Teresa of Calcutta, singer Bob Geldof and former US presidents John F Kennedy and Bill Clinton — have received the honour. Home Rule League founder Isaac Butt was the first recipient.