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Charity shop surge for back-to-school

BACK-to-school costs are driving hundreds of parents into charity shops and charitable organisations.

Almost 900 cash-strapped families, struggling with the rising costs, have appealed to charity shops in the Tallaght area alone to help them dress their children for the new term.

Charity shops across south Dublin have appealed to better-off families to donate schools uniforms and books to help those in need. Tracksuits, coats, shoes and stationery are also needed.



Mission

Andy Dogue, Tallaght area secretary with the St Vincent de Paul, says struggling parents should contact them. "We're here to help --that's our mission," he said.

A recent survey by children's charity Barnardos showed that nearly 60pc of parents have to find extra cash this September for school books compared with last year. The charity found it cost about €335 for a child to start school, €460 at fourth class level and this rose sharply to €815 for a child entering the first year of secondary school.

CEO of Barnardos Fergus Finlay said the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance did not go far enough. It has remained unchanged since 2007 at €200 for those aged up to 11 years and €305 for those aged 12 to 22. The average back-to-school cost identified in the survey did not include items such as school bags, sports equipment or extra-curricular activity costs.

Mr Finaly said it indicated a worrying trend and suggested the Government would have to take action to ease families' financial burdens.

"It is imperative that Government takes this into account when considering the upcoming Budget; families who are dependent on social welfare or on low incomes absolutely cannot afford any cuts to their income or to supports.

"Children's futures cannot be sacrificed to the recession."

Geraldine Haskins, Manager of the Barnardos shop in Clondalkin villages, said: "I have been working in this shop for six years and this summer is the first time that I have experienced people coming in looking for books and school uniforms.



Abuse

"The amount of requests we've had is unreal and is a definite sign that people are struggling. We have seen a number of our customers turn to substance abuse because they feel they cannot provide for their children."

Barnardos wants the Government to enforce the establishment of book rental schemes in all schools, reduce the use of workbooks that cannot be passed on and prevent increases in school transport charges and any more funding cuts.

csheehy@herald.ie


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