THE Society of Saint Vincent de Paul has said it expects to spend more than €200,000 in Cork by November this year, on assisting people in third-level education.
South West Regional coordinator for SVP Gerry Garvey told The Echo that the organisation has seen a big increase over the last year in the number of people reaching out for help with back-to- education costs.
For the whole of last year, SVP spent €68,000 in Cork assisting people starting or going back to third-level education and by the end of July this year it had spent €110,000. He expects that figure to almost double by the end of November.
“We are seeing more people,” Mr Garvey said.
“On average we are meeting between seven and 10 people a week.
“We are hearing from people who are working two part-time jobs or who are still paying off fees from last year and now they are faced with this year’s bills.
“It has gotten pretty difficult for people,” Mr Garvey said.
Mr Garvey also said that Kerry SVP will spend a further €100,000 by year-end.
“It just goes to show the widening gap between State funding and the true costs of going to college.
“We have seen this grow year-on-year and that is why we have tried to reach more students and assist them to get to college or stay there.
“There have been many cases where SVP’s help was the difference between a student completing their course or dropping out.
“We are working on the principle that education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty.
“If we can assist a student to attain a good qualification, they have a very high prospect of getting well-paid employment and being self-sufficient in the long term.”
As well as those in third-level education, Mr Garvey said that many of those returning to school were also struggling to cope with the costs.
“There are a lot of costs associated with going back to school and it is even worse when the kids are starting a new cycle,” Mr Garvey said.
In anticipation of the back-to-school demand, Mr Garvey said SVP applied for 65% more supplies from the FEAD programme (The Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived).
“This fund consists of basic supplies such as food, and then back-to-school items such as pens and pencils, copybooks, foolscap books, highlighters, calculators etc,” Mr Garvey explained.
Mr Garvey said as always, SVP was in need of donations to ensure that it can assist those in need.
“Anyone who can support or donate to SVP, it would be greatly appreciated,” Mr Garvey said.
The South West Regional co-ordinator also said they were launching a recruitment drive for volunteers and are looking for people to give their time to help others through the charity organisation.