independent

Monday 10 December 2018

Students tackle tough issues

The Loreto Justice and Peace Group with their display in the school
The Loreto Justice and Peace Group with their display in the school

Anna Hayes

The civic minded students at the Loreto Secondary School are making their voices heard on the issue of homelessness through their Justice and Peace group, who have undertaken an awareness-raising project on the subject.

The group, which has about 15 student members, has prepared a display outlining the facts and figures of homelessness in Ireland but three of the sixth years involved with the group say that they were mindful of the fact that homelessness was not always 'houselessness'.

Clodagh Wilson, Sinead Rafter and Beth Powell said they wanted to raise the issue now, rather than in the run-up to Christmas as they feared the message would be diluted by that.

They pointed out that over 3,000 students in Ireland were living in hotel rooms, putting it into perspective by explaining that this was the entire student body of the five Wexford town secondary schools.

'We can only imagine how horrible a situation this must be for students, trying to live and study in a hotel room. There are statistics showing that toddlers are not learning basic motor skills because they are cramped into small rooms.'

The girls have also started a petition that will be read out in the Seanad by Senator Lynn Ruane, who one of the students had a contact for. They also intend to circulate the petition further among local representatives to see if they can give any assistance.

The petition had hundreds of signatures prior to the midterm break and the girls planned to send it out to the other Wexford schools for their support.

The Justice and Peace group has been a fixture in the school for a long time, carrying out work for various charities and causes.

Last year, they raised money for the Simon Community, as well as holding an 'Underwear for the Underprivileged' campaign.

They have also previously held 'Clothes for Calais' and 'Walk for Water' events. Made up of fourth, fifth and sixth year students, they meet once a week and because of the ever-changing membership of the group, welcome lots of new perspectives each year.

The group is involved in a number of issues that are coming up. They are helping with the organisation of a Cultural Appreciation week which will celebrate the many different backgrounds of students in the school.

The girls moved into the new Loreto Secondary School in September of this year, after much uncertainty following the collapse of Carillion, one of the main players in the school building contract.

As a result of this, subcontractors who worked on the school were left out of pocket and the girls were adamant that they wanted to find a way to support them.

'Some of the subcontractors have girls in the school here. We are in the building and we are glad to be here but we do plan to have some kind of awareness campaign to bring their struggle back into the media. We fully support them and will do anything we can to show that support.'

Wexford People

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