LAST month volunteers at the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul’s (SVP) regional office answered an average of six calls an hour from parents unable to meet the full cost of sending their children back to school.
The region covers counties Limerick, Clare, Tipperary and Offaly and the calls came as the overall demand for SVP’s services showed an increase of almost 20 per cent compared to last year.
Almost half of the requests for help came from one parent families, reflecting the very high levels of poverty experienced among these families.
One day in early August, SVP volunteers took almost 450 calls from parents, many explaining the guilt and pressure of feeling like they weren’t doing best for their children.
Rose McGowan, SVP National President, said the needs of families struggling with school costs are still a long way off being met.
“While the increase this year in the Back-to-School Clothing and Footwear Allowance is helping families, these measures are only temporary and are still a long way off meeting the needs of families struggling with school costs.
“Parents tell us that by the time the bills are paid they have little, or nothing left to buy food and are struggling to pay for schoolbooks and uniforms as well as requests parent contributions. Many parents tell us that they feel they are failing their children by not being able to cover the increasing costs at back-to-school time. This has a huge impact on parents’ mental health and well-being,” Ms McGowan said.