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Hundreds of struggling parents call SVP everyday as back-to-school costs bite

The charity said the cost of iPads and tablets is a particular cause of concern.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

ST VINCENT DE Paul (SVP) has warned of the pressure that back-to-school costs heap on families after announcing that it received almost 300 calls every day last week from struggling parents.

The charity revealed that many of the calls received related to requests for financial help with parental contributions, schoolbooks, digital equipment, and help with the cost of school uniforms. 

It said the number of calls it has received this year relating to school costs are up 10% compared to previous years.

Members of SVP said they are particularly concerned about the number of calls they are receiving from worried parents in relation to the cost of iPads and tablets, many of which cost between €600 and €800.

The charity said these costs are impossible for struggling families to afford. It added that it provided support to low-income families who were struggling with the cost of digital devices and internet costs when schools closed earlier in the pandemic.

Rose McGowan, SVP National President, said: “With schools on track to reopen next week, children and young people can look forward to meeting up with their friends and resuming some normality after a tough 18 months.

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“Unfortunately, however, even in normal times school can be a daily struggle for students from low-income families, especially if they don’t have everything they need to learn or if they feel different from their peers.

For struggling parents, the preparation for the new school year is a huge source of stress, in particular the anxiety associated with the prospect of requests for contributions or other expenses for extra-curricular activities.

In its pre-Budget submission this year, SVP made a range of recommendations to the government, including scrapping ‘voluntary’ contributions in non-fee paying primary and secondary schools and making schoolbooks free for all primary and secondary students.

It also suggested addressing digital poverty for low-income households by ensuring sufficient resources are allocated to implement the forthcoming digital schools’ strategy.

About the author:

Céimin Burke

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