The Capuchin Day Centre charity has said it has handed out 3,000 food vouchers today to help people over the Christmas period.

From early this morning, a queue formed outside the charity in Smithfield in Dublin.

Just before 8am, around 300 people had gathered. Soon many more came as the vouchers began to be distributed.

The charity has been giving out Christmas food hampers every year since the 1970s, but this year as well as last - because of concerns around Covid - it gave out vouchers instead.

The €50 voucher for Dunnes Stores can be used to purchase food or clothes, but cannot be used to purchase alcohol, tobacco or lottery cards.

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Founder of the charity Br Kevin said this year has been very busy, fuelled by Covid restrictions and its fallout.

'We're finding people who are in dire straits. They are fearing the unknown as to what'll happen, especially those who have lost their jobs, these are the people who are very worried about Christmas," he said.

before the pandemic, the charity was doing 500-600 eat-in dinners daily. Now, that service has switched to takeaway and the number of meals being made has risen to between 700-800.

Br Kevin said the charity is finding people 'in dire straits'

A man queuing this morning said he would be lost without the voucher. "You'd be lost without it," he said. "It helps. I'm 76 years old."

"I'm struggling, it's really hard," said a woman who was also in the queue.

She said the voucher will help her get over the Christmas period.

"It's great, I can do my shopping and getting everything I need for Christmas. It's a great help," she said.

The vouchers are a Christmas boost to many

Another man said he comes down to the day centre when he needs to and is never turned away.

He said he will buy food with his voucher.

"If I get food with this it means I can pay my electric," he said.