Leitrim People Turn to Charity to Help Fund Educational Costs
St Vincent De Paul, Ireland's largest charitable organisation has seen a huge jump in applications for educational grants across the country, including Co Leitrim.
A spokesperson from the regional St Vincent De Paul (SVP) office based in Sligo said that there has been a "huge increase" in the Sligo / Leitrim area from people seeking financial assistance.
St Vincent De Paul have seen new and emerging needs, which may be as a result of the recession...
At this time of year, parents can find it very difficult to meet the costs of back to school and third level demands. St Vincent De Paul has offered educational grants of around €1,000 for a number of years to parents with children going to school or third level education and to mature students. But this year the number of application in Leitrim has rocketed.
A SVP delegation has informed the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Social & Family Affairs of a dramatic increase in the number of calls for assistance to the Society since 2008.
St Vincent De Paul have seen new and emerging needs, which may be as a result of the recession (e.g. mortgage difficulties, delays in accessing social welfare payments, recent job losses, pay cuts or reduced working hours) but these account for only a small proportion of the all the needs people present with at the 13 SVP Regional Offices. Typical requests made to these offices are for help with food, fuel and atypical household expenditure such as communions and confirmations, and also at back-to-school time.
Most SVP visitation groups in the region are seeing some form of increase in people 'newly in need' contacting them for assistance and note the shame, panic and stress they meet among these people.
In terms of dealing with new needs SVP Conferences are able to provide assistance with utility bills, food vouchers, education expenses and other basic needs but are not in a position to help with the payment of large debts and mortgages.
Most of the people being assisted by the SVP are in receipt of long-term social welfare payments. About one in four calls each month comes from someone who has not received SVP assistance before. Lone parent households are the main household type requesting assistance. Between 15-20% of calls each month come from foreign nationals.
(source: Leitrim Observer)