Over 11,000 families get help from VdeP for school costs

By Mary Dennehy

MORE than 11,000 families across local communities will be supported by St Vincent De Paul with back-to-school costs, with the charity also funding grinds for secondary school students in Tallaght, Clondalkin, Lucan, Ballyfermot and Cherry Orchard.

Last week, the Irish League of Credit Unions published its back-to-school survey, which identified a rise in the number of parents in debt due to new school-term costs.

Back to School costs August 2017 

According to the survey, well over a third of parents in Ireland (36 per cent) are getting into debt to cover back-to-school costs, an increase on last year’s 29 per cent.

The overall cost of sending a child back-to-school are, according to the survey, €999 for a primary school child and €1,379 for a secondary school student – with an increasing number of parents turning to moneylenders to cope with these costs.

These findings are reflected in the communities of Tallaght, Clondalkin, Lucan, Ballyfermot and Cherry Orchard, where local conferences of SVP are preparing to help more than 11,000 families this month.

“We are absolutely not seeing a drop in the number of families needing support,” Marie Cronin of the SVP told The Echo.

“We are pretty much on par with recent years in terms of demand.

“Food poverty remains a huge issue, families have no money left for food after paying the bills – and it is worse this time of year when parents are trying to put money aside for school costs.”

Ms Cronin said that SVP works to support families so they don’t have to go without food or start missing bills due to back-to-school costs, or turning to moneylenders.

This year, local conferences of SVP are also starting a new fund to support secondary school students with grinds.

Not qualifying for the bursary

“SVP has a third-level bursary for young people living in the areas of Tallaght, Clondalkin, Lucan, Ballyfermot and Cherry Orchard,” Ms Cronin said.

“However, we noticed that young people were not getting the points to get into third level and were not qualifying for the bursary.

“We want young people to be able to tap into local colleges like IT Tallaght and Maynooth . . . so, this year we are supporting secondary school students with grinds, opening up opportunities for them to progress onto third level.”

She added: “A lot of young people across our areas are living in homes that have three generations of the one family living in it.

“The sitting room has been turned into a bedroom and there could be lots of kids and lots of distractions within the home, with nowhere or no time for study.

“Working with the home school liaison officers in school we hope to identify secondary school students who would benefit from grinds, and SVP will support them to get the points needed for third level.”

According to Ms Cronin, a number of schools have a grinds system in place and SVP will work closely with teachers to support young people that could benefit from study space and grinds.

The Department of Social Protection has also assisted SVP with its back-to-school work by donating thosands of copy books, calculators, geometry sets etc to give to students.

For families seeking assistance call the Dublin office on 8550022 and they can direct you to your local office. Parish offices can also direct people to local conference of SVP.

The work of SVP can be supported through the use of their charity shops or by donating at www.svp.ie

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