Tuesday 17 September 2019

Back to school costs - SVdP report ten per cent increase in calls

Calls to Wexford's St Vincent de Paul helplines rise by ten per cent in the run-up to the back to school season, according to Area President for the organisation Ben Doyle.

According to Ben most of these calls come from concerned parents who are struggling to pay the costs of sending their children to school.

'August would be one of the busiest months as parents are thinking about their children returning to school. It's the busiest time of year for us, bar Christmas time,' she said. 'A lot of people that call us are able to get the back to school allowance but nine times out of ten, this wouldn't be enough, especially for those who have kids who are starting school for the first time.'

Calls regarding back to school expenses began in July and Ben said that they have increased since then. Though she feels that people in Wexford are quite good at saving for planned daily expenses, she said difficulty arises when they face the unexpected.

'A lot of people can survive from day to day but when something unexpected comes up, that is when we get the call,' she explained.

'The school thing would be a bit unexpected. Though parents know that their child is going to start school at the age of five, there are still lots of unexpected expenses that crop up in September and throughout the year.'

Ben said that she feels schools are very understanding in Wexford when they are faced with a parent who cannot afford certain costs. However, she said it can be hard for a parent to speak up when they are struggling.

'It's a matter of pride. It can be difficult for people to ask for help, especially when it comes to their kids. Parents only want the best for their children,' she said.

St Vincent de Paul in Wexford offers support to parents and families that are struggling to make ends meet, particularly at this time of the year. Ben encourages anybody who is unable to cope with the school expenses to give their helplines a call.

'The first thing I would say is that the work we do is private and confidential and we would never approach a school without permission from the parent,' she said. 'We never refuse any request for help. People can give us a call and we will bring them in to talk everything out. We can provide them with support. It doesn't matter if it is short or long term, we are in it for the long haul.'

Wexford People

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